Rhode Island Expands College Courses in High School

Published may. 07, 2015

Way to go, Rhode Island! The state is paving the way for more young people to get a leg up on college while still in high school and increase their chances for postsecondary success.

The Board of Education has adopted new regulations expanding opportunities for dual enrollment. The move will allow qualified students to enroll in one of the state’s three public colleges and earn both postsecondary credit and credit toward a high school diploma at the same time.

This sends a powerful message to students and their families, especially people from low-income backgrounds and other groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education: College is for you, too.

My colleagues at Jobs for the Future and I were honored to help the working group that framed guiding principles for the dual enrollment regulations, which the state board developed and approved last week. Over the past year, we brought in national models of dual enrollment policy and informed members about the choices and tradeoffs involved.

We are thrilled that Governor Gina M. Raimondo has included $1.3 million in her new budget proposal for Prepare RI, an initiative that would provide college classes to high school students free of charge.

Research shows that taking dual enrollment courses in high school gives students a real advantage in college, by providing an authentic college experience and the opportunity to practice the habits of college students a full year, or even several years, in advance.

Rhode Island did allow dual enrollment previously, when approved by the local school district, but the implementation was inconsistent. The headline now is that Rhode Island is providing a common vision for districts about the purpose and value of dual enrollment, while also providing support to encourage more districts to offer dual enrollment programs.

College-level courses will be available at local high schools, as well as at the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and the Community College of Rhode Island. Students will be able to choose from 60 courses at their own schools, such as Introduction to Engineering & Technology, Statistics in the Everyday World, Principles of Macroeconomics, and Writing to Inform and Explain.

See information on Rhode Island’s new regulations.

See information on JFF’s work to expand dual enrollment and other programs to increase student success in postsecondary education.

Photograph copyright iStockphoto/Chris Schmidt, 2007