Giving high school students access to college courses

Giving high school students access to college courses

(Calif.) K-12 schools in Long Beach have solidified a partnership with local colleges guaranteeing high school students have access to college coursework.

The Long Beach College Promise Partnership Act, which was originally set to end June 2017, is now a permanent fixture following the signing of Assembly Bill 1533, authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D–Long Beach.

The program allows high school students enrolled in Long Beach Unified School District to take credit-bearing, lower-division college courses that are transferable to four-year state university, or take college-level career technical education courses that lead to a degree or industry certificate.

Since the program began in 2011, participation in dual enrollment has increased from between 50 and 80 students to up to 1,000 in the summer 2017 cohort, according to O’Donnell’s office. Additionally, rates of completion of college-level English and math have increased, as have the number of students completing 25 transferrable units in their first year.

Throughout California, the number of high school students in California earning college credit has more than doubled in the last five years, according to data from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. The significant increase is the result of efforts made by lawmakers to make it easier for local community colleges and secondary schools to partner up and offer or expand dual enrollment opportunities for students that allow them to earn college credit while still in high school.

Research has shown that students who complete dual enrollment programs in their junior or senior years are more likely to graduate high school on time, enroll in college and earn their degree–particularly among minority and low-income students, whose families are able avoid at least a portion of skyrocketing tuition costs. Reports from the U.S. Department of Education also show a decrease in the number of incoming college freshmen in need of remedial classes, as such coursework reduces high school dropout rates and increases student aspirations by helping low-achieving students meet high academic standards.

Long Beach’s College Promise Partnership Act includes the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College, and California State University at Long Beach. Participating high school students receive priority enrollment, and are not required to obtain a recommendation for participation from their high school principal. Instead, students only have to get parental consent and complete the augmented California Standards Test. Children in the program also receive enhanced counseling services.

According to O’Donnell’s office, students who have participated in the dual enrollment program also reported benefits such as gaining familiarity with the college campus, developing relationships with other students and professors, gaining experience with the college classroom setting and college expectations, and taking college more seriously and gaining confidence in becoming full-time college students after the experience.