Should High School Students Take College Courses?
The short answer to this question is "probably." The well-designed programs that allow high school students to take college courses have features that support student success. If those features are in place, students benefit. Research by Karp and Hughes, Supporting College Transitions Through Collaborative Programming: A Conceptual Model for Guiding Policy, concludes
The case study findings illustrate the need to include multiple components in CBTPs (Credit-Based Transition Programs). Particularly for middle- and low-achieving students, merely offering the opportunity to enroll in college-level coursework is likely not enough to encourage postsecondary matriculation and persistence. Instead, students need to be supported before and during their college coursework. CBTPs also need to provide students with multiple pathways through the program, such as a selection of precollege courses to build students' skills.
The case study data also demonstrate that our initial conceptual model oversimplified program structure and the interaction among program components. The model was refined to reflect that complexity and to take into account student motivation. The final model hypothesizes that student participation in college coursework and support services, along with the attendant growth in academic skills, knowledge of the social aspects of college, and motivation, will lead students to matriculate into postsecondary education. And, because of their strong skills, students will be likely to persist in college once there.
Future research should test the model. In the meantime, the findings have important implications for policy makers and educators because they suggest that middle- and low-achieving students may benefit from participation in CBTPs if they are properly prepared for, and supported in, their college courses. Thus, policy makers may want to reconsider policies limiting participation to only academically advanced students. In addition, the findings stress the importance of collaboration and communication across secondary and postsecondary sectors.
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