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January 28, 2020

Modest Changes to Georgia’s Dual Enrollment Ensure Sustainability and Continued Access

To say that Georgia’s dual enrollment program has been a success is a huge understatement. Since 2013, the program, which allows high school students to take college level courses and receive high school and college credit, has increased enrollment by 212%. The program, popular with students and parents alike, gives students an early introduction in college-level work and increases confidence in enrollment and completion in a post-secondary institution. On the whole, dual enrollment opportunities should help students enroll and persist to graduation and receive a certificate or degree from Georgia’s technical college and university institutions, but the picture isn’t that simple.

As with any popular school program, the big increase in the number of students comes with big challenges – increased workloads on school counselors and teachers to administer the program and drain on resources to cover additional fees not included in tuition. Under the current structure, students may take any college level course for which they are eligible, including non-core courses or electives, with no cap on the number of courses that can be taken. A small number of the overall students are driving the higher costs for the dual enrollment program. Students who enroll in many college courses, or who repeatedly enroll and withdraw from courses, or repeat courses, drive up the usage and cost of this essential program. 

The vast majority of students use the dual enrollment program as intended – to receive college credit and receive some early post-secondary exposure to life and study on Georgia’s post-secondary campuses. The modifications proposed by Governor Kemp’s office and passed by the Georgia State Senate on Tuesday, include reasonable and thoughtful options that keep Georgia’s dual enrollment program sustainable and focused on quality. The bill, which still requires final passage, is carried by Representative Bert Reeves in the House and Senator Brian Strickland in the Senate. The proposed changes include:

  • Defining courses eligible for dual enrollment as HOPE core courses or Career, Technical & Agricultural Education (CTAE) courses ensuring that credits a student receives for dual enrollment courses in high school will transfer equally among Georgia’s technical colleges and universities.
  • Capping the total number of hours for which a student can receive college-level credit to 30 hours over the course of high school. Note that students currently average 17 hours of dual enrollment courses. In addition, students currently enrolled in state apprenticeship program would be eligible to exceed this cap.
  • Making only juniors and seniors in high school eligible to enter dual enrollment courses with an exception for sophomores in CTAE courses and students who qualify for the Zell Miller Scholarship.
  • Maintaining the requirement for student counseling regarding enrollment in dual enrollment courses but does not allow retakes for more than two withdrawals from courses with exceptions for major life emergencies or extenuating circumstances.

Refining dual enrollment on portability and use of college credit is not only being a good steward of limited resources, but will help speed up the time to obtain a degree or certification, which is critical to employers eager for talent. These recommended changes will preserve the long-term viability of Georgia’s dual enrollment options, help more students access and complete postsecondary education, and grow the workforce needed to fill Georgia jobs.

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