The appeal of concurrent enrollment programs is widespread in Iowa and throughout the United States. The fifteen Community Colleges in Iowa provide extensive opportunities for high school students to enroll in and successfully complete college credit courses while in high school. Accountability in all educational programs is increasing, concurrent enrollment (dual credit) programs must meet the challenge and be able to stand up to scrutiny. Any program that does not have data to support progress and academic gain is in jeopardy of being phased out and dual enrollment programs are not exempt from this scrutiny (Burns & Lewis, 2000). The significance of this study lies in the fact that despite the increase in concurrent enrollment programs and the attention that has been given to them in the state of Iowa, virtually no research has been undertaken to examine the impact of participation in these programs on college persistence, degree completion and acceleration rates.
This study focused on two benefits to participating in concurrent enrollment programs that of degree attainment and accelerated progress towards the degree. The purpose of this quantitative study was to: (1) develop a profile of the demographic characteristics of Iowa’s concurrent enrollment students; (2) develop a profile of the demographic characteristics of concurrent enrollment students who complete a degree, diploma or certificate at an Iowa community college; (3) determine the effects of gender, ethnicity, and student status (arts and sciences versus career and technical) and student intent/goal at registration (transfer to college or university or prepare to enter the job market) on degree completion and acceleration towards a degree, and (4) contribute to the existing body of knowledge related to concurrent enrollment/dual enrollment.
In this study, degree completion rates were highest for female, white concurrent enrollment students enrolled in college parallel programs and for the male, white student enrolled in career and technical programs. Degree completion rates were lowest for male, non-white students enrolled in arts and sciences programs.
Of the student background characteristics in this study, gender appeared to play the largest role in degree completion and acceleration rate. Females had significantly higher graduation and acceleration rates than males.
Ethnicity had no impact on any of the regression models. However, there were very small numbers of ethnic minorities enrolled in concurrent enrollment programs for fiscal 2002.
For students’ intent/goal (transfer to a college or university or prepare to enter the job market) these variables had a positive influence on degree completion and a negative influence on acceleration (time to degree). The findings in this study revealed 79.1 percent of the concurrent enrollment students were enrolled in college parallel programs in fiscal year 2002, the balance of the concurrent enrollment students were enrolled in career and technical programs (19.8 percent). The results of this study revealed that 23.9 percent of the concurrent enrollment students enrolled in college credit courses for fiscal 2002 completed a degree in fiscal years 2002, 2003, 2004 or 2005.