High school students taking dual-credit courses and the number of credits they are earning is on a sharp rise in Kentucky, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE).
Statewide, nearly 35,000 high school students participated in dual-credit courses through a college or university during the 2017-18 academic year, up 45 percent since the 2015-16 year, said in a new report.
Dual-credit courses are cost-effective ways for students to earn both high school and college credit while still in high school, according to state officials. Studies show these courses increase the likelihood of college-going and on-time college graduation.
“We are very pleased with this phenomenal growth in dual credit, and we anticipate continued growth as more students and families experience the many benefits that dual credit offers,” said CPE Executive Vice President Aaron Thompson.
Leading the way
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) increased dual-credit students by 47 percent, up from 11,303 in the 2015-16 year to 16,576 last year. Earned credit hours at KCTCS colleges climbed 92 percent reaching 106,385 hours last year.
Among the dual credit courses taken through KCTCS, 25 percent were aligned to targeted workforce skills, while 71 percent were general education.
Gains in other sectors
Impressive gains were also posted at public four-year universities. Student participation grew 41 percent, increasing from 9,188 in 2015-16 to 12,977 students in 2017-18. The credit hours these students earned grew 50 percent, a gain of 21,533 college credit hours over three years.
For the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities sector, student participation increased 50 percent, up from 3,463 to 5,214 total students over three years. Attempted credit hours increased 34 percent during the same period.
Scholarship key to boost
Thompson credits the state Dual Credit Scholarship Program as one of two key developments that led to greater participation. The scholarship covers the cost for two courses in either general education or career and technical education. Preliminary data for fall 2017-18 shows nearly $5.6 million in scholarship funding was distributed for dual credit.
CPE’s Dual Credit Policy, adopted in 2015, contributed to the rise in dual-credit participation because it pushed for expansion of high-quality and affordable courses, and ensured transferability of credit among campuses.