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Dual Credit in U.S. Public High Schools

Prevalence of Courses for Dual Credit in Regular Public High Schools

Dual credit, whereby high school students can earn both high school and postsecondary credits for the same course, is an area in which interest has grown rapidly over the past decade (Bailey and Karp 2003; Clark 2001; Education Commission of the States 2004). For this study, dual credit was defined as a course or program where high school students can earn both high school and postsecondary credits for the same course. Dual credit courses were available on high school campuses, the campuses of postsecondary institutions, or were taught through distance education. These courses might include courses with an academic focus, such as English, history, or foreign language, or those with a career and technical/vocational focus, such as computer maintenance technology and automotive technology.

During the 2002-03 12-month school year, 71 percent of public high schools offered courses for dual credit (table 1). The size of public high schools was positively related to the percentage of schools offering dual credit (table 1). In 2002-03, 63 percent of small schools, 75 percent of medium-sized schools, and 82 percent of large schools offered courses for dual credit. Schools located in cities were less likely than schools located in either towns or urban fringe areas to report offering dual credit courses (65 vs. 79 and 74 percent, respectively) (table 1). In addition, schools located in rural areas were less likely to offer these types of courses than were schools located in towns (70 vs. 79 percent).

Table 1. Number and percent of public high schools that offered dual credit courses during the 2002-03 12-month school year, by school characteristics: 2003


Number and percent of public high schools that offered dual credit courses during the 2002-03 12-month school year, by school characteristics: 2003

NOTE: Percentages are based on unrounded numbers. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding or missing data. For the FRSS study sample, there were 29 cases for which the percent minority enrollment in the school was missing. Those cases were included in the totals and in analyses by other school characteristics.
SOURCE: Table 1 in U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Dual Credit and Exam-Based Courses in U.S. Public High Schools: 2002-03, NCES 2005-009, by Tiffany Waits, J. Carl Setzer, and Laurie Lewis. Washington, DC: 2005.

Location and Educational Focus of Courses for Dual Credit

Schools reported whether their students were offered courses for dual credit at three locations: courses taught on the high school campus, courses taught on the campus of a postsecondary institution, and courses taught through distance education technologies. Of the 11,700 public high schools that offered courses for dual credit, 61 percent indicated that they offered courses for dual credit taught on a high school campus, 65 percent offered courses for dual credit taught on the campus of a postsecondary institution, and 25 percent offered courses for dual credit taught through distance education technologies.1

During the 2002-03 12-month school year, there were approximately 1.2 million enrollments in dual credit courses. Of these, 74 percent (855,000 enrollments) were in courses taught on a high school campus, 23 percent (262,000 enrollments) were in courses taught on the campus of a postsecondary institution, and 4 percent (44,900 enrollments) were in dual credit courses taught through distance education (figure 1).

Schools that reported offering courses for dual credit located on either a high school campus or on the campus of a postsecondary institution were asked to report separately for each location about courses with an academic focus and courses with a career and technical/vocational focus. Of the 11,400 schools that offered courses for dual credit that were taught on a high school campus or on the campus of a postsecondary institution, 92 percent indicated that they offered dual credit courses with an academic focus, and 51 percent reported that they offered dual credit courses with a career and technical/vocational focus.

School enrollment size was positively related to the likelihood of offering dual credit courses with a career and technical/vocational focus. In 2002-03, 43 percent of small schools, 52 percent of medium schools, and 61 percent of large schools offered these types of courses. During the 2002-03 12-month school year, among dual credit courses taught on high school campuses, there were approximately 513,000 enrollments in dual credit courses with an academic course focus, and 342,000 enrollments in courses with a career and technical/vocational focus. These enrollments represent 46 percent and 31 percent, respectively, of the total enrollments in dual credit courses taught on either a high school campus or at a postsecondary institution (figure 2).

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of enrollment in courses for dual credit, by course location: 2003


Percentage distribution of enrollment in courses for dual credit, by course location: 2003

NOTE: Percentages are based on the total 1,162,000 enrollments in dual credit courses. Percentages are based on unrounded numbers. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: Figure 2 in U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Dual Credit and Exam-Based Courses in U.S. Public High Schools: 2002-03, NCES 2005-009, by Tiffany Waits, J. Carl Setzer, and Laurie Lewis. Washington, DC: 2005.

Figure 2. Percentage distribution of enrollment in courses for dual credit, by course location and educational focus: 2003


Percentage distribution of enrollment in courses for dual credit, by course location and educational focus: 2003

NOTE: Percentages are based on unrounded numbers. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding or missing data. For the FRSS study sample, there were 29 cases for which the percent minority enrollment in the school was missing. Those cases were included in the totals and in analyses by other school characteristics.
SOURCE: Figure 4 in U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Dual Credit and Exam-Based Courses in U.S. Public High Schools: 2002-03, NCES 2005-009, by Tiffany Waits, J. Carl Setzer, and Laurie Lewis. Washington, DC: 2005.

References

Bailey, T., and Karp, M. (2003). Promoting College Access and Success: A Review of Credit-Based Transition Programs (ERIC ED482497). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Adult and Vocational Education.

Clark, R.W. (2001). Dual Credit: A Report of Programs and Policy that Offer High School Students College Credits. Seattle, WA: Institute for Educational Inquiry.

Education Commission of the States. (2004). Dual/Concurrent Enrollment. Retrieved April 27, 2004, from http://www.ecs.org/html/IssueSection.asp?issueid=214&s=Quick+Facts.


1 The percentage of schools with courses for dual credit taught on a high school campus, on the campus of a postsecondary institution, and through distance education sum to more than 100 percent because many schools offered courses for dual credit at more than one location. An estimated 21 percent of schools offered courses for dual credit at both the high school and postsecondary institution campus, and an estimated 6 percent offered dual credit courses at the high school campus, postsecondary institution campus, and via distance education.

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