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Report: To Increase All High Schoolers’ Access to Dual Enrollment in College


College of Education

Report: To Increase All High Schoolers’ Access to Dual Enrollment in College,
Strengthen Maryland State Program

Gail Sunderman
COLLEGE PARK, MD (May, 2017) – In a new report funded by the Baltimore-based Abell Foundation, University of Maryland researcher Gail Sunderman examined how the components of dual enrollment programs may influence students’ decisions to enroll in college courses while in high school. Research suggests that participation in dual enrollment increases college readiness, yet only 11 percent of Maryland high school students statewide and two percent of Baltimore City high school students enrolled in college courses in 2014-15.

The Maryland College and Career Act of 2013, recognizing the potential of dual enrollment programs, sought to encourage the expansion of these programs statewide; yet, participation levels vary significantly across districts.

By looking at program design and implementation in Baltimore City and three nearby counties, Dr. Sunderman identifies recommendations in the report that would help ensure broad access by high school students to dual enrollment programs. She advocates for state funding, along with supportive services for students and flexibility in program design.

“Research suggests that students in dual enrollment programs are more likely to enroll and persist in college,” said Dr. Sunderman, director of the Maryland Equity Project at the University of Maryland College of Education. “Dual enrollment programs have traditionally served academically-achieving, college-bound students, but if all high school students have access and support to participate, they can help increase equity in college enrollment.”

In the report, Dr. Sunderman examined dual enrollment in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore County, and Prince George’s County. While the state law created a mechanism for dual enrollment, it did not mandate program design or provide funding, creating wide variety across and within districts. She investigated how funding arrangements, eligibility requirements, student support services, and communications strategies differed across districts.

While applauding the 2013 Maryland legislation’s goal, which aimed to increase college and career readiness through dual enrollment and other programs, the report states that Maryland must strengthen the dual enrollment program to provide equitable opportunities throughout the state. The report’s specific recommendations include:

  • Provide full funding for districts and higher education institutions pursuing dual enrollment programs.
  • Require and fund the provision of student and family support services, including counseling to navigate enrollment and career planning.
  • Facilitate the transfer of credits between schools in the Maryland educational system.
  • Incentivize program models that incorporate dual enrollment and extend tuition discounts to cover developmental courses that prepare students for college courses.
  • Consider alternative eligibility requirements.
  • Evaluate the processes and outcomes for dual enrollment.

View the report, Dual Enrollment in Maryland and Baltimore City: An Examination of Program Components and Design.

The Abell Foundation is dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life in Maryland, with a particular focus on Baltimore City. The Foundation places a strong emphasis on opening the doors of opportunity to the disenfranchised, believing that no community can thrive if those who live on the margins of it are not included.

The Maryland Equity Project is a research center in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership at the University of Maryland College of Education. It conducts, synthesizes, and distributes research on key educational issues in Maryland, facilitates collaboration between researchers and policymakers, and seeks to improve education through research that supports an informed public policy debate on the quality and distribution of educational opportunities.



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