Enhanced Dual Enrollment as a college readiness strategy.
Early Colleges have demonstrated gains for their target population in college preparedness but as budgets tighten in school districts and colleges, two Early College Intermediaries, Middle College National Consortium and Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation suggest that dual enrollment can be used to provide more students with college readiness. MCNC and WW practioners have developed dual enrollment strategies and practices that can be used in districts for students traditionally not found in higher education.
An Enhanced Dual Enrollment System (EDES) has as advantages the ability to:
- Change the high school culture by changing the expectations of students exposed to college classes who in turn demand more from their high school teachers and raise the level of student commitment to hard work.
- Reach a wide range of students because of the times it can be offered i.e. summer, evenings, Saturdays, over longer periods of time and with extra time built in.
- Provide a reality check for high school students on their real level of college preparation so that they can develop their own sense of academic efficacy.
- Provide for academic and psycho-social growth by being with more diverse age groups.
- Embed the college knowledge strategies into practice as they learn the non academic skills such as time management.
Dual enrollment cannot however, be offered as a one-off stand alone class for the nontraditional student. It has to be enhanced by using four proven early college strategies:
Different Academic Preparation
The academic preparation lays the ground work that dual enrolled college classes is an expectation of all students not just motivated students or students already deemed college ready. It develops new college readiness measures beyond state tests and college placement tests. It also includes a classroom orientation for students to the college environment by requiring varied writing types and the reading of difficult texts.
Every dual enrolled class should align to the high school curriculum and have a sequential pathway that allows all students to enter at various stages in their high school career based on readiness. The dual enrolled class is used as a substitution for high school classes and is offered in ways that use time in new ways such as summer, evenings, and weekends.
Support that is academic and social emotional provided by both the high school and college
The support is provided by discipline, is mandated and tracked to student outcomes. It is important to focus on meta cognitive skills that help orient students to the demand of the college level work. Seminars or tutoring sessions that help students develop peer relationships for study are an important vehicle for future independence. Help with the demands of home and school are needed at this point for first generation college going who may not understand the demands of time placed on the student and the conflict that arise in families that want their child to go to college but do not know how to support the student in terms of rearranging family demands.
Deep collaboration between the high schools and the colleges
The collaboration includes a formal MOU that specifies the target population and defines the role of each partner including administrative duties, academic responsibilities, data sharing and financial considerations for books and tuition. Access to the college campus should be open to all dual enrolled students accompanied by a college ID and invitations to the events on the campus.
The collaboration should build on existing partnerships, with orientation for new participants and personnel and adaptation to new circumstances. A high level of leadership is required from both partners and a commitment to find multiple ways to determine college readiness.
The Enhanced Dual Enrollment Program works best when there are designated offices and personnel at each institution where the students can go for help in navigating the system. Time also needs to be set aside for regular monthly meetings to ensure communication and data sharing and leadership to strengthen the collaboration.
Professional development for all staff, college and high school
Embedded, ongoing joint professional development provides for the development of a community of practice focused on students that are crossing the institutional boundaries. It should rely on the strengths of each institution, focus on student outcomes, and align the curriculum. It provides opportunity to clarify the college expectations, modify the high school curriculum and eliminate remediation and redundancy. It also provides support for all faulty involved in this joint venture to develop new skills and enhance the use of technology.
MCNC can help you create a College Readiness Design for your district that incorporates the learnings from Early College and is tailored to your policy environment.