Everybody's talking college completion, at least in education and schools, but what lies in the DNA of student success?
Studies from Massachusetts to Texas to North Carolina and Florida show dual enrollment students more likely than their non-dually-enrolled counterparts to complete a college degree.
A 2008 study of Oregon college students found dual enrollment students to have a higher college participation rate, go on to college to the second year at a higher rate than freshmen who enter college without having earned dual credit, and earn a higher first-year GPA.
A 2008 Iowa study, focusing on dual enrollment students who took no AP or IB classes, found that dual enrollment "fosters more positive attitudes toward earning post-secondary degrees in students who did not previously hold these attitudes."
Across the nation, Complete College America (CCA) initiatives have moved legislators to rethink college funding. According to CCA, 41 percent of students entering college are not ready for credit-bearing college coursework. Other studies push that number to 60 percent. And part-time students rarely graduate.
In the next decade more than 60 percent of all jobs will require a college degree which, at present, only 35 percent of Georgians aged 25 to 35 have.
These numbers won't change without leadership.
A commission appointed by Gov. Deal approved a new formula for sending taxpayer dollars to Georgia colleges, all tied to student success and degrees earned. Set to move forward with base funding in fiscal year 2015, colleges would earn or lose money starting fiscal year 2016 based on student outcomes.
Legislative leaders in Georgia including Fran Millar, Chip Rogers, Jan Jones, Edward Lindsey and Steve Davis are ahead of the game by granting access and dollars to post-secondary options for secondary students, and fully funding dual enrollment with legislation like HB 400, 149, 186 and 326 demonstrate real leadership.
A Texas study of more than 30,000 students found students taking college courses in high school significantly more likely to attend and graduate from college than peers who do not.
The Boston-based education nonprofit Jobs for the Future tracked 32,908 students who graduated from Texas high schools in 2004. Half were dual enrollment students; half were not.
The study found that dual enrollment students were more than twice as likely to enroll in a Texas two- or four-year college and nearly twice as likely to earn a degree.
More than 54 percent of dual enrollment (DE) graduates earned a college degree, compared to 36.9 percent of non-DE grads; 47.2 percent of DE graduates earned a bachelor's degree, compared to 30.2 percent of non-DE grads.
These benefits held for all racial groups and for students from low-income families.
Parents have a choice. They need to understand the options and eligibility requirements for students to join the most likely group to complete college. Georgia law, under HB 186, requires public schools to notify all eligible early college students in grade 8 through 11 of their options by April 1 of each school year. SAT and ACT test preparation and registration are required of most programs. This takes planning.
Let's move on it; let's educate Georgia.
Jeff Meadors is the District 1 representative on the Newton County Board of Education. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.