State of CTE: Dual Enrollment in Perkins V State Plans

In October 2020, Advance CTE released “The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States’ Perkins V Priorities,” which examines how states have leveraged the development of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans to expand quality and increase equity within their Career Technical Education (CTE) systems. 

Perkins V is an important federal education statute that charges states to develop high-quality programs of study that build coherent, options-rich connections between middle, high school, college, and careers. A high-quality program of study should offer on and off-ramps for learners along their pathways and create seamless transitions between K-12, postsecondary institutions and the workforce. One key aspect of quality that is a priority within states’ plans was the expansion of dual/concurrent enrollment. These early postsecondary opportunities are critical because they help CTE learners understand their post-high school options, earn degrees or credentials faster, saving them time and money and prioritizing their individual needs.  

Approximately one-third of high school graduates take courses for postsecondary credit at some point during their educational careers. Historically, about a third of all dual credits earned have been in CTE courses. Participating in these opportunities can lead to higher rates of college enrollment and success, as they demonstrate to learners that they are prepared for college-level work and enable them to get a headstart on their credential or degree. Ensuring there is equitable access to these programs is an important part of building educational cultures where each learner, especially learners of color, can see college as a viable option.

One foundational way that Perkins V elevates the focus on dual/concurrent enrollment is through the introduction of a new secondary program quality indicator. States can choose from three options — work-based learning, recognized postsecondary credentials (credentials of value), and postsecondary credit attainment (dual/concurrent enrollment and articulation). 

Advance CTE’s analysis of state Perkins V plans found that states largely took up the mantle of supporting and expanding early postsecondary opportunities. Generally, many of these state decisions represent a continuation of prior commitments to programs of study and ensuring seamless transitions between secondary and postsecondary. 

  • More than half of the states (28 total) include dual/concurrent enrollment or articulation as part of their CTE program approval process.
  • About a quarter of states (13 total) have selected postsecondary credit attainment as at least one of their secondary CTE program quality indicators within their Perkins V accountability system.
  • Forty-one percent of states (21 total) are prioritizing dual/concurrent enrollment and articulation within their comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA) or local application for Perkins eligible recipients.
  • A quarter of states (12 total) are leveraging Reserve Funds to advance dual/concurrent enrollment.
  • A third of states (17 total) are leveraging Perkins to develop statewide articulation agreements.

State Strategies to Advance Dual/Concurrent Enrollment and Articulation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Innovations

  • Illinois will utilize disaggregated data to identify and provide targeted technical assistance, more effective resource allocation and enhanced continuous quality improvement efforts to address equity gaps in dual enrollment. This will require better communication to underrepresented students and their families regarding dual credit options, including the courses offered, the impact on a student’s career trajectory, and the related career opportunities that align with each program.
  • Connecticut’s College Career Pathway (CCP) program provides high school students with the opportunity to complete postsecondary coursework before graduation. The state requires its Perkins eligible recipients that have a CCP or another similar articulation agreement with a postsecondary institution to dedicate, at minimum, 5 percent of their local Perkins grant to support these efforts. Further encouraging collaboration in this area, postsecondary eligible recipients in the state must use a minimum of $20,000 of their local Perkins grant in support of these partnerships. 

The Work Ahead

Most states’ focus within their Perkins V plans was around providing secondary learners early postsecondary credit opportunities. While these efforts are critical to help learners transition from secondary to postsecondary education, more can still be done to facilitate transitions at the postsecondary level. States should continue efforts to develop additional pathways to help postsecondary and adult learners translate experiences in non-credit programs to pathways that provide credit, through efforts such as credit for prior learning. 

Similarly, state Perkins V plans rarely included efforts to support transitions from two-year institutions to four-year institutions. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is through statewide articulation agreements to ensure full transferability of any credits that are earned by learners. Yet only a third of states are prioritizing the creation of statewide articulation agreements in their Perkins plans, including some states that previously had such agreements in place.  

Finally, states need to continue to ensure that dual/concurrent and articulation opportunities are meaningful, equitable and fully aligned to a learner’s program of study. For instance, only about half of states that are using postsecondary credit attainment as their secondary CTE program quality measure explicitly require that these credits be related to a learner’s CTE program of study or wider career pathway, which is required by the law. States need to make intentional decisions about which courses count and how many credits are earned and collect and use the data on which credits are actually articulated, by which learners, across institutions.

Resources

Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Amy Williams, Executive Director, National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships

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