Held on March 25 to 26, the workshop will help states build the capacity of their college in high school programs, which include dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school models, to expand equitable access and ensure high quality. Education officials from Connecticut will also have the opportunity to collaborate with teams from the five other participating states, including Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, and Vermont.
The Lamont administration has made workforce development one of its top priorities and in support of that goal, SDE has been working with various constituent groups such as educational stakeholders, parents and families, and community partners to ensure the state has an aligned, high-quality, and equitable talent pipeline. Expanding dual-enrollment opportunities for K-12 students is a key pillar to Connecticut’s approach.
“In order meet the demand of Connecticut’s businesses and replace the state’s aging and retiring workforce, our focus has turned to cities with younger and growing populations which are typically more diverse and historically underrepresented in dual-enrollment programs. Therefore, Connecticut must invest from within, capitalizing on our most valuable resource – our people,” Governor Lamont said. “By strengthening our education system with targeted, high-quality programming, we ensure we do not fall behind our neighboring states. This workshop will be a critical step in ensuring Connecticut is on the cutting edge of expanding equitable access to our college in high school opportunities in order to maintain its competitive edge.”
“Too many students in Connecticut are falling off the path to successful careers and meaningful lives because of an inflexible and rigid set of options bridging them from high-school into post-secondary education,” Commissioner Cardona said. “A strong K-12 system with tailored, flexible postsecondary pathways has the potential to be our state’s best economic driver. We believe that dual-enrollment programs are powerful, high-quality opportunities providing students with rigorous coursework that offer a strong and robust bridge from high-school to lifelong learning and high-quality careers. That’s why we are committed to continue working with our partners to support, expand, and scale dual-enrollment opportunities for all students. We are committed to providing each and every high school student equitable access to postsecondary and career readiness experiences.”
Attending states will receive in-depth technical assistance from nationally recognized policy experts, using the recently released “Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity and Quality in College in High School Programs” as a framework to design policies that drive meaningful change in access, equity, and quality for college in high school programs. “Unlocking Potential” is intended to serve as a roadmap for states and details six critical components and provides policy recommendations for each:
1. equity goal and public reporting;
2. program integrity and credit transfer;
4. course access and availability;
5. instructor capacity; and
6. navigational supports.
The report also highlights examples from 28 states that have taken steps to build strong state policies. Following the workshop, CHSA and NGA will release a joint guide on lessons learned to help inform the work being undertaken in states across the country.
Commissioner Cardona said that the expansion of college in high school programs are a major lever in closing opportunity gaps while also strengthening the state’s future workforce pipeline. Specifically, he said that collaborating with partners in higher education such as the Connecticut State Colleges and University System present opportunities to broaden strengthened offerings within an existing framework that is uniquely responsive to the needs of individual communities.
In recent years, the growth in Connecticut students participating in college in high school programs has been dramatic. In 2015-2016, approximately 19,222 students were simultaneously enrolled in a high school and credit-bearing post-secondary course. In 2018-2019, that number increased by 53 percent reaching 29,466 students.
Some of the college in high school programs that support Connecticut students include:
· University of Connecticut Early College Experience (ECE) partners with over 160 high schools in Connecticut offering 201 courses. It is one of the largest concurrent enrollment programs in the United States both by student enrollment and the numbers of courses offered. In 2018-19, 15,491 Connecticut high school students participated in the program.
· Connecticut State Colleges and University Dual Enrollment and College Career Pathways (CCP)
o Dual-enrollment: Similar to UConn’s ECE program, this concurrent program offers over 100 courses throughout hundreds of high schools in Connecticut. Enrollment in these courses continues growing seeing 11,985 students participate in 2018-19, its largest number to date.
o The College Career Pathways (CCP) program is available to high school juniors and seniors and allows students to earn college credits (without cost) by taking academic and technical courses that have been articulated through their local community college. Eligible Perkins institutions utilize funding to support and expand dual-enrollment opportunities for high school students. In 2018-2019, 3,815 students in Connecticut participated in a CCP or Tech Prep course.
· Advanced Placement (sponsored by the College Board) has been an established way of enrolling high school students in college-level classes and exams. Eighty-two percent of Connecticut’s public high schools offered at least one AP exam in May 2018. Over the past few years, there has been no cost for students from low-income families to take the AP exam. As a result, their participation has increased dramatically from 3,372 students in 2015 to 5,533 students in 2019 – a 64 percent increase which is the third highest increase among states nationally.
· Early College High Schools: A handful of districts in Connecticut have adopted Early College High Schools, while others are considering adding them to their educational portfolio. Currently, these models partner with community colleges and businesses to build curricula and course offerings, allow concurrent enrollment, and offer 100% college acceptance rates.
“Governors play an important role in advancing good policy for college in high school programs, such as dual enrollment and early college,” Lexi Barrett, associate vice president at JFF, which is a member of the CHSA steering committee, said. “The College in High School Alliance is excited to partner with the National Governors Association and bring together representatives from governors’ offices, K-12, and postsecondary education from six states and the District of Columbia. Together, we will explore how to move forward on policy that ensures equitable access to high-quality, college in high school programs.”
“NGA is looking forward to working with the College in High School Alliance on this project,” Timothy Blute, Interim Director at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, said. “Governors have a unique capability to convene the state-level stakeholders needed to ensure all students have equitable access to dual and concurrent enrollment programs. I’m very excited that we’ll be working with the Alliance to bring this opportunity for technical assistance to our membership.”
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