Dual enrollment in high school and college—common since the late 1980s—is proliferating as the nation’s completion agenda takes hold. Earning tuition-free college credit in high school, the thinking goes, saves students time and money and gives them the confidence and momentum to continue on with higher education. But such acceleration, skeptics say, compromises rigor and doesn’t do students any favors.
In theory, dual-credit courses use the same syllabi and adhere to the same standards as those on campus. Advocates of the model point to at-risk students who go on to thrive in college and cite studies showing that students with early college credits are more likely to progress and to graduate with at least a two-year degree. It’s hardly surprising that at least some students with a head start get to the finish line faster. But is it a race?
As lawmakers, educators, and parents worry about soaring college costs and high dropout rates, the pressure on 15- to 17-year-olds to earn college credits early has intensified. The message: Get core courses “out of the way.” <Read more.>