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Klobuchar, Smith Join Colleagues in Calling for Study of Dual Enrollment and Concurrent Enrollment Programs

In the letter, the senators asked the U.S. Department of Education to examine high school programs that promote academic success in college as part of its proposed analysis of federal K-12 education spending; such programs are shown to benefit students from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) joined Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and 15 Senate colleagues in encouraging the U.S. Department of Education to expand its planned study of federal K-12 education spending to include dual and concurrent enrollment programs and early college high schools. In their letter, the senators urged the Department to examine utilization, outcomes, and best practices of college in high school programs that receive funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The most recent reauthorization of ESEA – the Every Student Succeeds Act – passed on a bipartisan basis in 2015.

“As strong supporters of college in high school programs such as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school programs, we write to urge the U.S. Department of Education to examine how school districts are using federal funding opportunities created by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support increasing student access to high quality programs that promote academic success,” the senators wrote. “ESSA recognizes the important roles that these college in high school programs can play in preparing students—particularly those from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds—for success in college and career. Through these programs, high school students gain exposure to the academic challenges of college, earning transcripted, transferable college credit often at reduced or no tuition cost.”

“An examination by the Department of school districts’ use of funds to support college in high school programs would be timely and help inform future policymaking to ensure more low-income and underrepresented students have access to these successful models.”

In December 2019, the Department of Education announced its plan to analyze the dollars spent by 400 of the nation’s school districts on five programs (Part A of Titles I, II, III and IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and Title I, Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). This analysis would be the government’s first education spending study of its kind to occur since 2009.

In addition to Klobuchar, Smith, Warner, and Portman, the letter was sent by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Secretary DeVos:

As strong supporters of college in high school programs such as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school programs, we write to urge the U.S. Department of Education to examine how school districts are using federal funding opportunities created by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support increasing student access to high quality programs that promote academic success. The Department recently announced plans to study district and school uses of federal education funds for ESSA (ED–2019–ICCD–0160). We strongly encourage you to examine utilization, outcomes, and best practices of college in high school programs as part of that initiative.

ESSA recognizes the important roles that these college in high school programs can play in preparing students—particularly those from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds—for success in college and career. Through these programs, high school students gain exposure to the academic challenges of college, earning transcripted, transferable college credit often at reduced or no tuition cost.

Numerous rigorous, multi-institution, and statewide quantitative research studies in more than a dozen states have proven that these programs increase high school graduation, college readiness, and college access, persistence, and completion, especially for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. Additionally, in 2017 the Institute of Education Sciences’ What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviewed dozens of studies against their strict criteria and found a medium-to-large evidence base that shows positive impacts on college enrollment and completion from participating in dual enrollment programs.

We encourage the Department to examine how states and districts are leveraging and coordinating federal resources across funding streams for which dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school are allowable uses to support a comprehensive network of high-quality programs. Namely, ESSA established a series of reporting requirements, state and local plan components, and allowable uses of funds all aimed at encouraging states and local education agencies to prioritize dual and concurrent enrollment as a key strategy for successfully preparing students for college and the workforce.

Since these provisions are all housed in portions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that the Department intends to analyze as part of its Study of District and School Uses of Federal Education Funds (i.e. Titles I, II, III, and IV) and many of the provisions impacting dual and concurrent enrollment programs were new to federal law with the passage of ESSA, an examination by the Department of school districts’ use of funds to support college in high school programs would be timely and help inform future policymaking to ensure more low-income and underrepresented students have access to these successful models.

We appreciate your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

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