Admissions, Pathways

Bridging the Gap: Dual Enrollment Equity Pathways (DEEP) for Underserved Students

Parchment Staff  •  Apr 01, 2024  •  Blog
Webinar Blog Recap: Dual Enrollment Equity Pathways image

If you couldn’t attend the webinar, DEEP Dive: Achieving the Potential of Dual Enrollment, here are some highlights from the research presented by the Community College Research Center.

High school students taking college courses through dual-enrollment programs has grown significantly in recent years. From 2021-2023, participation in dual enrollment grew by 11.6%. This is exciting news, as dual enrollment provides many benefits to students, including a higher likelihood of enrolling in college and better outcomes once they step foot on campus. As dual enrollment expands, questions persist about whether the progress is seen by all. Is dual enrollment a “program of privilege”? How can equity gaps be addressed so that all students can reap the benefits of dual enrollment?

The Community College Research Center analyzed dual-enrollment programs across the country and found that 1 out of 5 school districts had closed the equity gap. What were they doing to promote dual enrollment to underserved populations? What did they have in common that made them a success? How can we learn from their success and implement their strategies at a broader scale?

What the Research Shows

There was a strong correlation with equity and community colleges that implemented Guided Pathways reform. According to the Community College Research Center, “Guided Pathways is a whole-college redesign model designed to help all students explore, choose, plan, and complete programs aligned with their career and education goals efficiently and affordably.” Rather than the traditional “cafeteria” model where students could pick and choose their desired courses, Guided Pathways is an approach to map course selections to the desired goal of the student. It’s a prescriptive approach to planning and a means to avoid taking classes of little value to the student’s future plans.

In the world of dual enrollment, taking courses that don’t align to a future pathway is often referred to as “random acts of dual enrollment”. The credit may be awarded, but doesn’t actually advance the progress towards degree or completion. The majority of partnerships that had closed the equity gap were further along in their Guided Pathways implementation.

Additionally, the Community College Research Center developed the dual enrollment equity pathways (DEEP) framework to identify the meaningful work that districts and colleges pursued to close equity gaps.

DEEP Framework for Reform

1. Outreach to underserved students and schools
Focus outreach on underserved students and communities, and start outreach before high school to build trust with parents and families.

2. Alignment to college degrees and careers in fields of interest
Inventory current dual-enrollment offerings, map offerings to college degree programs, and embed offerings in career-connected high school programs.

3. Early career and academic exploration, advising, and planning
Use dual enrollment to showcase college programs, help students develop a college program plan, and coordinate advising roles across sectors.

4. High-quality college instruction and academic support
Scaffold coursework and front load supports, provide additional structured support for online classes, support instructors, and monitor quality.

The DEEP framework represents a promising approach to bridge the gap and create meaningful pathways to postsecondary education for historically marginalized communities. Through partnerships between community colleges and K-12 schools, DEEP practices aim to not only increase access to dual enrollment but also empower students to explore diverse college and career options aligned with their interests and aspirations.

To learn more about bridging the equity gap in dual enrollment, watch the webinar presented by the Community College Research Center below:

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