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On Ramp to College: A State Policymaker's Guide to Dual Enrollment

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Publication Date: May 2008

Publisher(s): Jobs for the Future, Inc.

Author(s): Nancy Hoffman; Janet Santos; Joel Vargas

Funder(s): Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Funder(s): Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Topic: Education (Education policy and planning)

Keywords: dual enrollment; high school

Type: Report


On Ramp to College reviews trends in a growing number of states that see dual enrollment as a way to expand college opportunity, particularly for students who might not be considered college-bound. The guide shows how dual enrollment can serve as an "on ramp" to postsecondary education for students who are otherwise unlikely to attend college. It guide also highlights successful state-wide dual enrollment efforts, provides a step-by-step plan for policymakers to create successful programs and assess current approaches, and guides state officials in how to provide a wide range of students with equal access to dual enrollment and make it part of a continuous system for grades 9-16.

Most states developed dual enrollment programs to give advanced students a head start on college. Few programs were designed to serve as a bridge to college for those students not already college-bound. However, the situation is changing as dual enrollment programs have become more common and a wider variety of students participate. States can increase the likelihood of creating successful programs by following several guiding principles: create a clear purpose; provide equal access and eligibility; offer high-quality course options and student support systems; ensure adequate funding and systems to track data on quality and outcomes; and build governance and alignment to ensure coordination between high schools and higher education institutions.