Participation in Colorado’s dual enrollment programs continue to grow and give students a head start on making a livable wage

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DENVER – Sept. 17, 2020: Nearly 50,500 students took at least one dual enrollment course during the 2018-19 academic year, according to a report released today by the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) and Colorado Department of Education (CDE). This was an increase of nearly 4,700 students from 2017-18, or a 9.2% jump in dual enrollment participation overall. 
 
Often tuition-free, dual enrollment programs provide high school students with the opportunity to enroll in college-level courses and earn high school and college credit. Colorado’s Concurrent Enrollment (CE) program, established by the state Legislature in 2009, is still the most popular choice among dual enrollment programs for the fifth year in a row. Nearly 40% of Colorado high school graduates participate in a Dual Enrollment program.  Concurrent Enrollment continues to see sustained growth with an annual growth rate of 11% in 2018-19. Statewide, 172 school districts—or 97%—and 86% of high schools offer Concurrent Enrollment programs. 
 
“Concurrent enrollment is a terrific program that expands opportunity and opens doors for so many students,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. “These courses allow students to challenge themselves in new and innovative ways, explore new fields of study, and get prepared for good jobs while saving an estimated $50 million dollars on tuition.”  

More students of color took advantage of CE classes in the 2018-19 academic year. CE participation grew by 15% among African American and Black students, 12.1% among Latinx and Hispanic students, 11.3% among Asian students, and 10.5% among students who identify as more than one race or ethnicity.  
 
“These courses save students money, give them a head start on earning college credit, save them on time to degree and improve future wage outcomes, a win-win for our students and our economy,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director, CDHE.
  
Through Concurrent Enrollment or ASCENT programs, 3,116 students earned some type of postsecondary credential while in high school, a 13% increase over last year’s total high school credential completion number (2,758). In addition, Concurrent Enrollment students had higher workforce earnings after five years ($15,767.45 vs. $14,377.98) than those who did not take college courses in high school.  
 
“We know three out of four jobs in Colorado are going to require some sort of postsecondary education,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “That’s almost 3 million future jobs. We want to be sure the K-12 system prepares students as early as possible for that changing workforce. And Concurrent Enrollment courses along with other options such as internships and apprenticeships are great ways for students to get ready for their next steps beyond high school.”
 
This year’s report includes findings from a research study supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES grant number R305H170049) and the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab. This study found that students who attempted one or more Concurrent Enrollment credits in high school were dramatically more likely to matriculate to college within one year following high school graduation, persist in postsecondary education, complete postsecondary education, and have higher workforce earnings after postsecondary completion.  
 
Key findings from academic year 2018-19

  • Statewide, 50,416 students participated in dual enrollment programs of any type.  
  • Concurrent Enrollment continues to see sustained increases in participation, up more than 11% statewide with 34,519 students participating. 
  • High school students attempted 293,820 Concurrent Enrollment credit hours. The average number of credit hours attempted per students was 8.5 with an average of 8 credit hours passed. 
  • Participation in Concurrent Enrollment increased among students of color.  
  • More than 40% of students who participated in ASCENT in 2018-2019 were Latinx or Hispanic, a racial/ethnic group historically underrepresented in postsecondary education. 
  • 3,116 high school students earned some type of postsecondary credential after participating in Concurrent Enrollment or ASCENT programs. 
  • Two-year institutions saw the biggest percentage increase in Concurrent Enrollment participation with a 10.8 percentage point increase. 
  • At the district level, Jeffco Public Schools had the most students participating in Concurrent Enrollment by headcount (3,245 students), while Edison 54 JT School District had the highest percentage (79.1%) of students participating in Concurrent Enrollment. 
  • Statewide, 172 school districts—or 97%—and 86% of high schools offer Concurrent Enrollment programs.      
  • A large majority of the Concurrent Enrollment hours taken by students—94%—were passed in 2018-19 (0.3 percentage points less than 2017-2018). 
  • In 2018-2019, 31 districts had less than 5% Concurrent Enrollment participation among their 9th- through 12th-grade student population. This is a slight decrease from last year when 34 districts had less than 5% Concurrent Enrollment participation. 

This report was prepared by the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Colorado Department of Education and was submitted to the Education Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives pursuant to 22-35-112 C.R.S. Read the complete report. 
   
*In this report, “dual enrollment” refers to the broad array of programs available to high school students that allow them to take college-level courses for free. “Concurrent Enrollment” refers only to statewide programs created by House Bill 09-1319 and detailed in the Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act (C.R.S. 22-35-101 et seq.). 

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