Research: State-Level Policy on Dual (Concurrent) Enrollment - Education Commission of the States

Overview

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) has conducted two research reports on state policies to advance dual (concurrent) enrollment programs.

ECS defines a dual/concurrent enrollment program for its research: a “program that is offered in the majority of high schools within a state and allows high school students to take individual courses for dual or postsecondary credit. Therefore, it excludes programs requiring participating students to take a prescribed set of courses or to complete a particular credential. It also excludes programs that can only be accessed through a specific type of school, such as early/middle college high schools.”

In Advancing Dual Enrollment Equity Through State Policy (2023), ECS found that though dual enrollment participation supports postsecondary attainment, there is not equitable across student groups. Student populations historically excluded from dual enrollment face barriers in the areas of (1) program access, (2) affordability, and (3) quality.  The report concludes that state policy can advance equity in dual enrollment systems through (1) program requirements, (2) financial support mechanisms, and (3) implementation guidance.

In 50-State Comparison: Dual/Concurrent Enrollment Policies (2022), ECS studied policies in every state, resulting in a comprehensive resource that includes policy found in statutes, regulations, and other state policy documents and guidelines, as of May 2022.  The report does not reflect local implementation or practice.

The study reports findings in five sections: (1) program basics; (2) access, including state policies on student access to programs; (3) courses, including state policies on course offerings and limitations; (4) finance, including state policies on program finance; and (5) quality, including state policies on quality assurance mechanisms associated with the program.

Each state’s approach across all policy areas is available on individual state profiles.

Key Takeaways

  • 48 states and the District of Columbia have state-level dual enrollment policies.
  • 28 states established multiple dual enrollment programs through state policy; 21 states established two programs; 5 states established three programs; 2 states established four programs.
  • 27 states require secondary and/or postsecondary partners to notify students and parents of at least one of their state-level dual enrollment programs.
  • 41 states specified student eligibility criteria for at least one of their dual enrollment programs through state policy. The most common categories of student eligibility criteria: grade level of the student (33 states); meeting postsecondary institution’s entrance requirements (26 states); recommendation from school official (19 states).
  • 42 states specified instructor qualification requirements for at least one of their dual enrollment programs through state policy. The most common categories of instructor qualification requirements: meeting postsecondary institution’s faculty requirements (29 states); meeting institutional accreditor requirements (15 states); having a graduate degree (9 states).

Resources

Jamieson, C; Duncombe, C.; Bloomquist, L; Mann, S; and Keily, T. (May 2022). 50-State Comparison: Dual/Concurrent Enrollment Policies. Education Commission of the States. https://www.ecs.org/50-state-comparison-dual-concurrent-enrollment-policies/

Individual state profiles

Mann, S. (January 2023). Advancing Dual Enrollment Equity Through State Policy. Education Commission of the States.  https://www.ecs.org/wp-content/uploads/Advancing-Dual-Enrollment-Equity-Through-State-Policy.pdf

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