- High school students in Montana will be able to take two dual-enrollment courses for free through the state university system this year, according to the Helena Independent Record.
- The new One-Two-Free program will save students an average of $1,190 as compared to paying full tuition and fees, and it removes a $50.50 fee per credit. The local public school system found the fee to be a barrier to high school students enrolling in dual enrollment programs. Colleges typically make about $150 per dual enrollment student.
- The courses are offered at more than 90 high schools in the state, on the campuses of Montana University System institutions and online.
The number of students taking dual-enrollment courses in Montana more than doubled from 2013 to more than 6,000 in the 2017-18 academic year, the Missoula Current reported. Nationwide, from the 2002-03 to 2010-11 academic years, the number of students in dual-enrollment programs increased 80% to 1.2 million, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Several states continue to promote the courses, including Illinois, which passed a law last month that will allow students to take as many dual-credit courses as they'd like.
A 2017 report showed that over a six-year period only about 12% of high school students in dual-enrollment programs did not go on to enroll in college by age 20 while 41% went to a four-year institution. Among the remaining 47% of students who went to community college, 84% went to the one where they had taken a dual-enrollment course. The data suggests dual enrollment encourages college attendance and attracts students to the college offering it.
Other research has found, however, that dual-enrollment programs don't offer enough opportunities to lower income students, students of color and first-generation students. Studies in Oregon and Texas found there was not enough diversity among dual-enrollment program participants there.
Beyond that, some experts are concerned that dual-enrollment courses taught by high school teachers may not offer the same caliber of education as one taught by postsecondary faculty. In addition, the option of dual enrollment may add to increasing confusion about what courses count when students enroll in a college or transfer.
To improve dual-enrollment offerings, experts suggest more pre-college experiences such as summer bridge programs, transition courses and campus tours. They also say there should be early interventions to prepare 5- to 18-year-olds, and that schools should not limit access by grades alone.