New Research Into Dual Credit Programs

Ellen Wagner
Dr. Ellen Wagner

Dual credit programs – where students receive college credit for high school courses – have been part of the educational landscape in the United States for more than 60 years.  However, given the various dimensions of dual credit program operations (e.g., student eligibility, faculty eligibility, funding, course delivery partnerships, and transfer articulation) dual credit programs can be complex and, at times, highly emotional to undertake.

AASA, the School Superintendents Association, worked with Hobsons to explore how superintendents are using dual credit programs in their school districts. Here is some of what we’ve learned:

Dual credit programs benefit students and families. Dual credit programs expand the number and types of courses available to high school students. Students have the opportunity to complete college credits while still in high school, decreasing students’ potential reliance on loans and financial aid. Students who complete dual credit courses have a headstart, with credits already “in the bank” before they show up on campus.

Dual credit programs encourage students. Parents, teachers, counselors, and academic leaders in districts and institutions report that students are inspired and motivated when they complete college-level work. This was especially notable in districts serving students with lower socioeconomic status, first-generation students, and students looking for challenging academic experiences more aligned with their personal interests.

Dual credit programs catalyze collaboration. To make a dual credit program successful, high schools must work with partners at community colleges, regional colleges, or universities. This means that high school teachers who are teaching what are effectively college courses must possess the same academic preparation as college teachers.

To learn more about our dual credit research with AASA, download the full report.