Education Innovation
The Promise of Dual-Enrollment

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on an encouraging trend in American higher education: A growing number of students are earning vocational credits at local community colleges while they are still in high school.

Nick Niehus is a senior at Iowa City West High School, but he’s already got a head start on college. Every afternoon, after he is done with his classes, he heads to Kirkwood Community College’s new regional center, where he takes college courses alongside other high-school students from the area. When he graduates he’ll have 16 credits in advanced manufacturing under his belt, which he’ll apply toward an associate degree at Kirkwood.

By his own admission, Mr. Niehus is an average student, and that’s exactly what the Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa is aiming for. Once tailored toward high achievers, dual enrollment, in which high-school students can earn school and college credit simultaneously, is expanding outward, aimed at students in the academic middle. […]

Across the nation, dual enrollment — also called concurrent or joint enrollment — is growing in popularity. Its appeal taps into widespread concerns about college costs as well as academic and career readiness.

More of this, please. We’ve said it before: The idea that thirteen years of traditional K-12 education plus four years of progress toward an expensive liberal arts BA is the only path to career success in America should be questioned more frequently. High schools should offer more opportunities for vocational education; private companies should experiment with coding academy-style training programs; there should be more opportunities for students to earn college credit early so they don’t need to pay for the full four years.

And policymakers interested in making education work better for the middle and working class should look for ways to promote this kind of innovation.

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