Dual Enrollment: A Strategy for Improving College Readiness and Success for All Students

Dual Enrollment: A Strategy for Improving College Readiness and Success for All Students
Dual Enrollment: A Strategy for Improving College Readiness and Success for All Students

Click here to view the Event Video for this forum in a new tab»


Increasingly dual enrollment is becoming a strategy to encourage and support more students into postsecondary education and beyond.  Yet, the research is only beginning to allow us to understand the long-term impacts on student success as well as the ideal design elements. This forum reviewed the range of research conducted by the National Center for Postsecondary Research, as well as discuss ways that dual enrollment has been/can be used as a strategy to promote college and career readiness for all students.

Following an overview of the research (see below), our panelists described how dual enrollment has been used as a strategy in both the state and national context to support efforts to ensure all students are college- and career-ready.  Panelists included Chad Aldeman, U.S. Department of Education; Julie Alexander, Florida Department of Education; Katherine Hughes, Community College Research Center and National Center for Postsecondary Research; and Cecilia Speroni, Mathematica Policy Research and Community College Research Center.


Julie Alexander was named the Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for the Division of Florida Colleges in December 2011. Previously, Ms. Alexander was the Assistant Administrator of the Statewide Course Numbering System, Policy Analysis in Planning and Institutional Research with the Office of the Board of Governors, and Bureau Chief with the Division of Career and Adult Education. Ms. Alexander has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Texas and a Master of Education in Instructional Technology from the University of West Florida.


Chad Aldeman is a Policy Advisor in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education, where he works on teacher policy and secondary schools. Prior to joining the Department, Aldeman was a policy analyst with Education Sector, where his work focused on K–12 and higher education accountability. He has published reports on state higher education accountability systems, the potential of improving high school accountability by incorporating outcomes data, the school choice process in New York City and Boston, teacher salary schedules, teacher pensions, and teacher preparation. His work has been featured in the New York Times, InsideHigherEd, Newsday, and the Des Moines Register.

Aldeman holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s of public policy degree from the College of William and Mary. While at William and Mary, he assisted on research projects analyzing the drafting and implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, parental choice in the Milwaukee school voucher program, and state variations in teacher policies by type of credentialing board.

Katherine Hughes is the Assistant Director for Work and Education Reform Research at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) and the Institute on Education and the Economy (IEE), Teachers College, Columbia University.. Since joining CCRC/IEE in 1995, Hughes has led and conducted research on the transition from high school to college and careers, including projects addressing the national school-to-work initiative, employer involvement in high schools, work-based learning, career academies, secondary-postsecondary partnerships, and state policies that facilitate transitions and pathways. Her current work focuses on the potential of dual enrollment for preparing disadvantaged youth for college. Hughes has published results from her work in a range of periodicals including Journal of College Student Retention Community College Review,Teachers College RecordTechniques, and Phi Delta Kappan, and she co-authored the book Working Knowledge: Work-Based Learning and Education Reform (with Bailey and Moore; from Routledge Falmer Press). Hughes serves on the New York City Advisory Council for Career and Technical Education. She holds a doctorate in sociology from Columbia University.

Cecilia Speroni is a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research and a research affiliate at the National Center for Postsecondary Research. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her doctoral dissertation examined the role of high school acceleration mechanisms as determinants of student success, extended regression-discontinuity methods to evaluate the causal effect of dual enrollment programs, and assessed the predictive power of subjective and objective evaluations of teacher effectiveness at raising students’ test scores. Prior to Mathematica, Dr. Speroni worked at the American Institutes for Research and the Community College Research Center, where she was involved in various large-scale quantitative policy studies on topics ranging from the elimination of bilingual education in California to the shortening of developmental education course sequences in community colleges.


Researchers from the National Center for Postsecondary Research discussed the following research studies:

Determinants of Students’ Success: The Role of Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment Programs

Using data from two cohorts of all high school students in Florida and controlling for schools’ and students’ characteristics, this study examines the relative power of Advanced Placement (AP) and Dual Enrollment (DE) in predicting students’ college access and success. The study finds that both AP and DE are strongly associated with positive outcomes, but the enrollment outcomes are not the same for both programs. DE students are more likely than AP students to go to college after high school, but they are less likely to first enroll in a four-year college. Despite this difference in initial enrollment, the difference between DE and AP in terms of bachelor’s degree attainment is much smaller and not statistically significant for some model specifications. In addition, the effect of DE is driven by courses taken at the local community college campus; there is no effect for DE courses taken at the high school.


High School Dual Enrollment Programs: Are We Fast-Tracking Students Too Fast?


Dual enrollment (DE), an arrangement by which high school students take college courses, is becoming increasingly popular as a means of improving high school education. However, there is little rigorous evidence on its impact on student outcomes. This working paper represents the first attempt to gauge the effect of DE on the likelihood of high school graduation, college enrollment, and college completion among students who are on the edge of eligibility for participation in DE. In two separate analyses, the paper examines the effects of taking an academic DE course in any subject and the effects of taking a DE course in college algebra. While the former appears to have no significant effects on student outcomes, participation in DE algebra was found to have large and significant effects on college enrollment and graduation rates for students on the margin of participation eligibility.


Different Approaches to Dual Enrollment: Understanding Program Features and Their Implications 

This report describes the various program models and the state and local policies and community contexts that shaped them. To help secondary and postsecondary partners consider the potential consequences of particular programming decisions, dual enrollment models are discussed in relation to the following aims:

  • Making dual enrollment an attractive option for a broad range of students, particularly for youth who are low-income, struggling in high school, or part of a group that is underrepresented in higher education
  • Delivering career-focused dual enrollment courses that offer high school and college credit
  • Supporting students in their college courses so that they have the resources to succeed and to build self-efficacy for continued engagement in college


Emerging Findings from the Concurrent Courses Initiative: Pathways to College and Careers

The Concurrent Courses Initiative (CCI) was created to demonstrate the feasibility of using dual enrollment programs to enhance college and career pathways for low-income youth who are struggling academically or who are within populations historically underrepresented in higher education. Funded by The James Irvine Foundation, the Concurrent Courses Initiative provided support to eight secondary and postsecondary partnerships in California to develop, enhance and expand their career-focused dual enrollment programs.  Forthcoming research from this effort will be presented.

This forum was held in partnership with the National Center for Postsecondary Research


Click here to see Chad Aldeman’s Powerpoint Presentation

Click here to see Julie Alexander’s Powerpoint Presentation

Click here to see Katherine Hughes’ Powerpoint Presentation

Click here to see Cecilia Speroni’s Powerpoint Presentation

Click here to download and view the forum brief PDF» 

Presenter Information

Julie Alexander

Florida Department of Education

Turlington Building, Suite 1514

325 West Gaines Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399

(850) 245-0505

Chad Aldeman

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202

(800) 872-5327

Katherine Hughes

National Center for Postsecondary Research

Box 174, 525 West 120th Street

New York, NY 10027

(212) 678-3091

Cecilia Speroni

National Center for Postsecondary Research

Box 174, 525 West 120th Street

New York, NY 10027

(212) 678-3091





The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.