Governor Lamont and Commissioner Russell-Tucker Announce $5.5 Million Investment To Grow Dual Credit Offerings in High Schools, Expand Pathways to Postsecondary Readiness
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker today announced that the Connecticut Department of Education is dedicating $5.5 million of its federal COVID-19 relief funds to expand dual credit offerings in Connecticut high schools. The funds include $3.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $2 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.
High schools offer dual credit courses in partnership with public and private colleges and universities. They enable students to earn both high school and college credit. Dual credit courses can be part of:
- traditional academic college pathways (for example, a four-credit course such as Principles of Biology that is typically a freshman college course in a bachelor’s degree program can be offered as a dual credit course in high school); or
- career-oriented pathways that lead to industry-recognized credentials (for example, a four-credit course such as Introduction to Machine Technology that is typically taken in a certificate program on Advance Manufacturing Machine Technology at a community college can also be offered as a dual credit course in high school).
Dual credit courses offer a rigorous alternative to traditional test-based measures (e.g., SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement, or International Baccalaureate) for students to demonstrate their postsecondary readiness. Moreover, students who successfully complete dual credit courses and register with the college simultaneously earn credits on a college transcript.
Such dual credit opportunities have been found in research to have positive effects on students’ college access and enrollment, credit accumulation, and college degree attainment. Accumulating college credits in high school can help students get a jump start in their postsecondary program, while also saving money.
Governor Lamont said, “Expanding access to dual credit courses is a smart investment in the future of Connecticut's students and our state’s economy. By providing students with the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school, we are helping to prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of higher education and the workforce. I am committed to ensuring that every student in Connecticut has access to these valuable programs, and I am proud to support their expansion as part of my broader vision for a stronger, more prosperous Connecticut. I appreciate our Congressional delegation for getting this much-needed COVID relief funding to Connecticut so that we can put it into good use on initiatives such as this.”
Commissioner Russell-Tucker said, “This investment to expand access to dual credit course offerings in Connecticut is an investment in our students’ academic and professional futures. By providing them with the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school, we are helping to reduce the financial burden of higher education and preparing them for success in college and careers. I applaud the Lamont administration for a strong commitment to expanding access to these valuable programs.”
In the coming weeks, the Connecticut State Department of Education will issue a grant application using a portion of the $5.5 million for funds to help districts create new dual credit offerings for students in partnership with Connecticut’s colleges and universities. Grant funded activities may include:
- creating new dual credit course articulations in partnership with one or more higher education partner;
- providing curriculum development stipends for teachers and college faculty to modify high school course content to align with college expectations;
- providing financial support for current teachers who need additional coursework to qualify as instructors for concurrent enrollment courses; and
- developing strategies to educate students and their families of the benefits of earning college credit during high school.
In addition to the district grant, the remaining funds will be dedicated to state-level activities to support ongoing quality assurance possibly through accreditation of the concurrent enrollment programs, and other professional learning and support activities.
Dual credit is one of the many pathways that is part of the Postsecondary Readiness Indicator (#6) in Connecticut’s Next Generation Accountability System. Students in 11th grade and 12th grade can demonstrate their readiness for this indicator through one of the following options:
- Achieving a satisfactory score in at least one of exams (i.e., SAT, ACT, AP, or IB); or
- Completing three or more nonremedial college credits with a C or better.
The Postsecondary Readiness Report, which is available on EdSight, provides the results of Indicator 6. Figure 1 shows the percentage of students meeting each component of Indicator 6.
In the 2021-2022 academic year, 43.5% of students in grades 11 and 12 demonstrated postsecondary readiness as measured by Indicator 6; and 23% scored a 3 or higher in an AP exam, while 22.3% completed at least three non-remedial college credits with a C or better.
Figure 2 disaggregates the data for critical student groups. It illustrates that while gaps in readiness remain, dual credit courses offer all students, and especially students with high needs (i.e., English learners, students with disabilities, and/or students from low-income families), with high-quality alternatives to demonstrate their readiness for postsecondary work. As previously mentioned, dual credit courses can help students pursue academic or career-focused pathways at our state’s 2-year and 4-year colleges.
Figure 2: Percentage of Grade 11 and 12 Students Demonstrating Postsecondary Readiness in 2021-22 by Student Group
Connecticut continues to be a leader in the College Board’s AP performance, consistently featuring among the states with the highest percentage of students in a high school graduating class earning a 3 or better in at least one AP exam. While not nearly as widely prevalent as AP, more schools are offering the IB program to their students.
In Connecticut, many public and private higher education institutions currently partner with high schools to offer dual credit opportunities. The dual credit results displayed in the Postsecondary Readiness Report on EdSight would not be possible without the dual credit data that the Connecticut State Department of Education received from the following public and private colleges and universities: the University of Connecticut’s Early College Experience program; the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system of four state universities, CT State (12 community colleges), and Charter Oak State College; Albertus Magnus College; Connecticut College; Goodwin University; Post University; Quinnipiac University; University of Bridgeport; University of Hartford; University of New Haven; University of Saint Joseph; and Wesleyan University.
Terrence Cheng, president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said, “CSCU is excited to work with the State Department of Education and our partners at the local level to expand access and opportunity for students to gain college credit and experience while still in high school. Investing in dual credit options has potential to reduce the cost of higher education for students while increasing college readiness and promoting social mobility. The state’s investment is a critical step forward.”
Christopher Todd, executive director for the Office of Early College Programs at the University of Connecticut, said, “UConn’s Office of Early College Programs is pleased to partner with and support the Connecticut State Department of Education in their efforts to expand access to dual credit programs across the state. As the nation’s oldest dual credit program, UConn’s Early College Experience program supports nearly 200 high schools and more than 15,000 Connecticut students with meaningful access to UConn courses and programming while in high school. UConn is committed to working with the CSDE, district leaders, and educators across the state to meet their needs and provide access to high quality college coursework for all Connecticut students.”
Jennifer Widness, president of the Connecticut Conference of Independent College, said, “The independent colleges in Connecticut are excited to partner with the state and local school districts to expand dual credit offerings in our neighboring communities. Enhancing the educational opportunities for young people by providing greater access to academic and career-focused college-level courses in high school will improve postsecondary success and lower the cost of college.”
Joseph DiBacco, superintendent of Ansonia Public Schools, said, “Ansonia High School’s partnerships with local universities provide our students with access to both academic and career readiness opportunities. Our partnership with CT State’s Housatonic campus enables our students to complete coursework towards a certification in Advanced Manufacturing. In light of our teacher shortage, Ansonia High School proactively partners with Southern Connecticut State University and Quinnipiac University on our Future Educators pathway, which allows students who are interested in becoming a teacher, social worker, psychologist, school counselor, etc., with the opportunity to explore their interest in education while also earning college credit. Ansonia High School students also have the opportunity to earn credit from UConn, University of Bridgeport, Post University, and University of New Haven. These dual credit opportunities help students build confidence when they begin the college process. Dual credit courses can save families money and ease the transition to post-secondary education.”
Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association, said, “The opportunity to expand offerings to our students that give them workforce readiness skills is something that teachers value highly. We know that our classrooms prepare the workforce of the future, and we embrace the many unique ways we can expand student experiences. Collaboration between high school programs and college programs is exciting and benefits so many students. We are excited to get involved in the grant program.”
Jan Hochadel, president of AFT Connecticut, said, “My own personal classroom experience is deeply rooted in the value of providing students with effective post-secondary pathways – and empowering educators to deliver them. I look forward to our unions partnering with the department, as well as state, regional and local district leaders, to invest these new resources into growing and developing new initiatives.”
Mary Yordon, vice president for PreK-12 educators of AFT Connecticut, said, “Expanding and creating improved dual credit programs has the potential to be a ‘win-win’ that benefits both our students and our members who educate them. Our unions are committed to a process where we have a seat at the table in both designing and implementing programs that will benefit from these grants.”