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Report Offers Strategies to Increase Rural Dual Enrollment

Several states that are attempting to improve access to dual-enrollment programs are finding success through public-private partnerships, expanding location offerings for classes, and covering program costs, according to a new report.

The Education Commission of the States released "Dual Enrollment: A strategy to improve college-going and completion among rural students," on Tuesday, which aims to highlight approaches that states are using to improve participation in college classes that are offered for high school students.

Nationwide, many of these classes are taught in high schools rather than online or at a college campus. This can be challenging for rural schools, which often struggle to recruit and retain teachers, especially those who can teach college-level courses. Rural schools also have transportation and financial challenges that can prevent students from enrolling in programs.

 The report offers several strategies to increase dual enrollment, as well as examples of states that have had success with those strategies: 

  • Providing financial aid for high school instructors who wish to become certified to teach dual enrollment. States like Wyoming and Minnesota have utilized this strategy to help teachers pay for coursework.
  • Providing courses through an online platform or a blend of online and in-person instruction. Ohio utilizes a private-public partnership to train teachers and provide more courses for students. Utah also offers courses online or through a blended model.
  • Expanding locations for dual-enrollment courses. Ten states allow these courses to be taught at a location other than a college or high school.
  • Covering program costs. In Louisiana, the state's office for financial aid assistance covers the tuition for students enrolled in a state program for 11th and 12th graders. Alabama appropriates money each year in a bill to lower costs of dual-enrollment programs for parents and students.

Nationwide, students in rural areas are less likely to go to college than their non-rural peers. Some research has shown that participating in dual enrollment programs can increase the likelihood that a student will graduate from high school and attend college. 

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