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New Resource on How States Are Using Federal Policy to Enable Students to Earn College Credits in High School

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Topics: Early College High School, Education Equity, Education Policy

College in high school programs are one way that students can experience a more personalized education. These programs, which include early college high school, dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment, allow high school students to earn transferable college credits while still in high school, often at no additional cost to the student and their family. In some cases, these programs enable students to graduate from high school with the equivalent of an associate degree.

Over the past several years, states across the country have recognized the value of college in high school programs. In fact, the vast majority of states have included college in high school in their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans. College in high school has informed states’ goals, visions, accountability systems, school improvement strategies, professional development and student support initiatives. In some states, funding is set aside for these programs, and in others, college in high school access and success counts towards accountability systems.

To examine how each state has approached college in high school in their ESSA plans, the College in High School Alliance (CHSA) published ESSA: State-by-State Analysis. As a founding member of the CHSA, KnowledgeWorks read through all 50 states’ and Washington D.C.’s ESSA plans and tracked how college in high school programs fit in each plan.

The following list includes some of the unique ways that states address college in high school programs in their ESSA plans:

  1. As part of its effort to encourage access to multiple pathways towards graduation, Washington D.C. allows for 360 students to dual enroll at George Washington University, Howard University and University of the District of Columbia and provides funds for books, fees, transportation and tuition at University of the District of Columbia.
  2. To support educators in preparing students for college and career, Hawaii is using its Title II, Part A funds to offer educators professional development focused on programs allowing students to earn college credits while in high school.
  3. To encourage its high school students to pursue careers in education, Idaho is investigating providing financial support for programs that enable students to earn college credits towards an education degree while in high school.
  4. To support an equitable education for all students, Mississippi is using a portion of its Title IV, Part A funds to support the Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit and Advanced Placement Task Force, which pursues partnerships to provide admission to postsecondary opportunities for qualified secondary students and seamless transfer of credits earned to postsecondary institutions.

Nebraska has the goal that by 2020, the Nebraska Department of Education will collaborate with the Governor, Legislature, postsecondary institutions and Educational Service Units to create a uniform process to align dual credit opportunities for students across the state.

ESSA presents a unique opportunity for states and districts to help more students enter and complete college by implementing school designs that ease the transition between high school and higher education. ESSA: State-by-State Analysis looks at what states are taking advantage of this opportunity.