Academic journal article Rural Educator

Dual Enrollment: Measuring Factors for Rural High School Student Participation

Academic journal article Rural Educator

Dual Enrollment: Measuring Factors for Rural High School Student Participation

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to explore the reasons 162 rural area high school students participate in the dual enrollment program. Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to enroll in college courses for credit prior to high school graduation with local school districts covering the cost of tuition. Participants in this study were recruited from two rural agricultural counties from Washington State attending a local college. Exploratory factor analysis revealed that dual enrollment participation was related to academics, financial, social, and choice reasons. Results showed no significant differences between 11th and 12th grade participants regarding financial and choice reasons to participate. However, statistically significant differences were found regarding academic and social reasons for participation. Implications for rural educators and recommendations for future research regarding dual enrollment programs are discussed.

Introduction

Dual enrollment provides high school students the opportunity to take postsecondary courses in public and private two- and four-year institutions (Andrews, 2004; Kleiner & Lewis, 2005; Marshall & Andrews, 2002; Robertson, Chapman, & Gasken, 2001). In 2002-2003 (12 month academic year) 5 percent (813,000) of high school students took college-level courses in post-secondary institutions (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). For many states, these dual enrollment programs are not new; they have actually existed for several decades through agreements between some high schools and colleges. However, due to an increased demand in the 1980s, many states began developing policies regarding dual enrollment (Andrews, 2000; Girardi & Stein, 2001). According to Karp, Bailey, Hughes, and Fermin (2005) 40 states now have dual enrollment policies.

Research indicates that dual enrollment programs are beneficial to students, parents, high schools, and postsecondary institutions (Andrews, 2000; Boswell, 2001; Bailey, Hughes & Karp, 2002; Girardi & Stein, 2001). Essentially, dual enrollment programs provide motivated and interested students an opportunity to earn college credit in high school, provide parents with financial savings, allow high schools to expand their course offerings, and offer colleges access to high schools' brightest students. While there is a large amount of research regarding the policies of dual enrollment programs (Hoffman, 2005), the costs and benefits for states, parents, and students (Boswell, 2001; Karp, Bailey, Hughes, & Fermin, 2004) and the attitudes of parents and students toward such programs (High School Leadership Summit, 2003), very little is known regarding the mediating factors of why students participate (High School Leadership Summit, 2003) and even less about the perceptions about why students participate in dual enrollment programs (Bontager, Clemetsen, & Watts, 2005).

Grimard and Maddaus (2004) reported that the primary issues for low-income rural students transitioning from high school to college and participating in a dual-enrollment program called Upward Bound are related to financial and social implications, but for those rural students participating in dual enrollment programs, the choice to attend college may be better explained through econometrics (Hossler, Braxton, & Coopersmith, 1989; Manski & Wise, 1983; McDonough, 1997; Pitre, Johnson, & Cown-Pitre, 2006). Econometric models explain that a choice to attend college is made in monetary terms as a rate of return on educational investment (Hossler et al., 1989; Manski & Wise, 1983; McDonough, 1997; Pitre, Johnson, & Cowan-Pitre, 2006). The present study explores factors related to why rural high school students participate in dual enrollment programs. Participants in this research study were from two rural agricultural counties in the State of Washington who were actively participating in a dual enrollment program called Running Start. …

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