Leveraging Federal Programs for Dual Enrollment
BY ADAM LOWE/School Administrator, November 2018

Adam Lowe (right), executive director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, with Allen Riddle (left), director of the Advance College Academy at Highland Springs High School in Henrico County, Va., and an alumnus of the Advance College Academy.

State funding and support for dual and concurrent enrollment varies across the country.

States take lead roles in enacting policies and funding support for high schoolers to concurrently enroll in postsecondary coursework. However, organizations such as the National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships and the College in High School Alliance have worked with Congress to enact laws that support local and state efforts to use dual and concurrent enrollment as a key strategy for college and career readiness.

ESSA’s Flexibility
The Every Student Succeeds Act provides school districts and states with considerable flexibility in the use of federal funds, and specifically authorizes districts to use federal funding for dual and concurrent enrollment coursework in the following programs:

» Students attending schools in need of improvement (Title I);

» Students attending high-poverty schools (Title I);

» Low-income students attending private schools (Title I);

» Teacher professional development (Title II);

» English language acquisition (Title III); and

» Academic enrichment (Title IV).

ESSA also incorporates student participation in advanced coursework on local school and state report cards and as a component of school district Title I plans to transition students to postsecondary education.

States have been designing new school accountability systems based on multiple measures of school performance under ESSA, and it specifically allows states to consider dual and concurrent enrollment as an indicator in high school accountability systems. To date, 37 states have included participation and/or performance in these courses in their ESSA implementation plans.

School district leaders should consider the impact of such accountability systems on dual enrollment to ensure sufficient school-level resources are devoted to these programs. You don’t want students’ socioeconomic factors driving performance on accountability indices if financial barriers prevent students from participating.

Perkins Act
Numerous districts and colleges have used the federal Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to fund professional development and equipment for career and technical dual enrollment programs. Since 2008, states have incorporated dual and concurrent enrollment programs into their six-year state plans.

The recent reauthorization of the Perkins Act strengthens this with its increased emphasis on dual and concurrent enrollment courses in pathways to postsecondary credentials and degrees. Beginning July 1, 2019, districts and colleges will have increased flexibility to use Perkins funds to increase the availability of technical dual and concurrent enrollment coursework, with the reauthorized act specifically allowing these uses:

» Local funds, including support for reducing out-of-pocket costs for special populations such as low-income students, students with disabilities and English language learners;

» State leadership activities, to establish, expand and integrate opportunities; and

» National activities, for research grants on delivering high-quality CTE programs of study and in a new innovation and modernization grant program.

Additional provisions include dual and concurrent enrollment as components of Perkins state plans and local applications. These permit states to include the percentage of students graduating high school with postsecondary credits earned through dual or concurrent enrollment as a potential indicator for accountability.

Higher Education Act
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, also known as GEAR-UP, supports K-16 partnerships that enroll low-income middle and high school students in rigorous college preparatory coursework while providing them with comprehensive academic supports and college advising. This act encourages GEAR-UP state and partnership grantees to incorporate dual and concurrent enrollment courses into low-income students’ courses of study.

After 9/11, Congress recognized the urgent need to increase the number of students studying critical foreign languages such as Arabic, Chinese and other Mideastern and Asian languages. Foreign language partnerships offer K-16 programs of study leading to high levels of language proficiency at the postsecondary level, including dual enrollment programs offering college foreign language courses to high school students.

ADAM LOWE is executive director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships in Chapel Hill, N.C.