New research shows the number of Kentucky high school students enrolling in dual credit courses has increased more than 75 percent in recent years. Higher education leaders see dual credit as an effective gateway into college.
The dual credit program allows high school students to enroll in college courses at their high school, nearby college, or online, and receive credit that counts toward high school and college completion.
A report from the Council on Postsecondary Education measured the impact of dual credit on student success at public, four-year universities. It's the first comprehensive study since Kentucky launched a statewide dual credit policy and scholarship program in 2016 to improve participation.
"We found that students who attend a Kentucky public university and had a dual credit experience in high school were both more likely to persist in college and make better grades, said David Mahan, Associate Vice President for Data, Research, and Advanced Analytics at the CPE.
The study says the benefit of dual credit was even greater for low-income and minority students, noting that second-year persistence was twice as high for disadvantaged students. More than 40,000 Kentucky high school students enrolled in dual credit in the 2019-2020 academic year compared to just over 23,000 five years prior. The CPE's online dashboard shows Western Kentucky University was the leader among the state's four-year, public universities and community colleges for dual credit enrollment in 2018-19.
Kentucky, in 2016, adopted a statewide dual credit policy that calls for high school students to have access to at least three general education and three career or technical dual credit courses. The state also added a dual credit scholarship that allows high school juniors or seniors the chance to earn credit for two college courses at no cost. The effort expanded in 2018 with the Work Ready Kentucky Dual Credit Scholarship, permitting students to complete two additional career and technical education courses per year in high-demand fields.