The ever-changing landscape of higher education, community colleges, and high schools has incorporated a crucial and important access opportunity for high school students to get exposure to higher education: concurrent enrollment. This edited collection, Bridging the High School-College Gap: The Role of Concurrent Enrollment Programs by Gerald S. Edmonds and Tiffany M. Squires, provides an encompassing view of the current conversations on concurrent enrollment, the state involvement in concurrent enrollment, and outcomes and effects of these programs as students go into post-secondary institutions.
Concurrent enrollment has been discussed and practiced in a number of ways depending on location and institutions. The diversity of these programs allows for students to have access to higher education institutions, especially students that have barriers attaining higher education. This book contains a number of important chapter contributors to the concurrent enrollment movement in the United States. I found this book interesting because of the series of chapters that encompass a large scope of locations practicing concurrent and dual enrollment. This scope provides insight into how the implementation of dual and concurrent enrollment are interpreted and implemented in a variety of areas, nationally. Although the implementations vary, students that have access to concurrent enrollment gain college credits and experiences.
The first section of the book, “Part One Definitions and Foundation,” creates a base for the information in the next three parts. The editors include four chapters by Edmonds, Henderson and Hodne, and Anderson, discussing the definition of concurrent enrollment and how there are different ways to talk about gaining college credits while in high school. In Edmonds’ chapter one, dual enrollment programs are defined as “occur[ing] alongside or in addition to a student’s typical high school schedule and also involve instruction provided by college level instructors” (p. 4). Concurrent enrollment is “opportunities that allow students to take college-credit-bearing courses taught by high school instructors inside their familiar high school environment during a typical high school day” (p. 4). In Anderson’s chapter four, dual enrollment is defined as “… a collaborative effort between colleges and high schools that allows high school students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously” (p. 24). There is also a conversation of different programs that have been implemented, such as Project Advance that jump started the concurrent enrollment programs, Postsecondary Enrollment Options Act from Minnesota in 1985, and the relationship between the Rio Salado College Dual Enrollment programs and the students. This foundation section was crucial to frame how dual and concurrent enrollment differ based on the definitions provided by the authors.
“Part Two, Program Components” is five chapters by Leahey; Waller; Kremers and Nolen; Abbott, Squires, Alteri; Henderson, Hodne, and Williams. These chapters provide practical information to further support dual and concurrent enrollment, which speaks to professional development, the quality of concurrent enrollments programs, and the “five major considerations” that administrators need to evaluate and assess programs. These five considerations are
- Aligning the program with the college mission and priorities
- Developing and maintaining a credible program
- Determining and working with the stakeholders
- Working with competitors
- Creating and maintain an administrative structure. (p. 42)
Other topics that this section addresses are math readiness and how these programs affect college math readiness, how having a transition advisor helps to ease the transition from high school to concurrent to higher education, and how the Entry Point program is providing access to higher education for students with English as a second language, low socioeconomic status, students of color, and first generation college students. This section identifies student positionality and identities and how programs affect the students, the institution, and the administrators running the programs. It is helpful to understand how the different levels of individuals become affected through concurrent enrollment.
The third part of the book is “State Focus.” This section of the book has three chapters, that are by Lowe; Ungricht and Grua; and Tombaugh and Seils. These authors discuss in depth different states policies that have been adopted and implemented to oversee dual and concurrent programs. The implementations were described through case studies, aspects of different implementation programs, and discussion on transition programming. These examples allow for the representation of policy and practice to be incorporated into the discussion of dual and concurrent enrollment. The information provided in this chapter is important because it frames the programs and the initiatives on a policy in a pragmatic way. It also situates dual and concurrent enrollment programs on a state level. In this section, I was hoping to see more ways in which the state government implemented an early college model or dual and concurrent programs. I appreciate that the chapters provided insight from different states, but I wish there was a bit more information to compare and contrast.
To end the book, Part Four discusses “Research and Evaluations Studies.” These six chapters by Judd; Saltarelli; Dutkowsky, Evensky, and Edmonds; Boecherer; Srinivas; and Swanson, focus on students and teachers. The emphasis is on students and the ways they persist, perform, and achieve in higher education. The major emphasis is how dual and concurrent enrollment affects students in getting into and completing a higher education program. Also, chapter 16 focuses on the effects of student income in relation to participation in concurrent enrollment. Additionally, there is one chapter that focuses on teacher training and economic literacy that affect concurrent enrollment. Each of these chapters is important to discuss because there is an understanding of student involvement and self-preservation in these programs. The teacher training piece gave the readers a slight insight to the way teachers are evaluated to teach an advanced course and the importance of having trainings for teachers. The expertise, material, and standards in those classes provide positive economic literacy knowledge to students (p. 256-257). I personally would like to know more about the differentiation of concurrent enrollment teachers to dual enrollment qualifications and how in-depth training happens for different subjects. This is important to understand in the context of concurrent enrollment because teachers play a significant role in both high schools and colleges that provide dual and concurrent courses.
Overall, this book provides different perspectives on dual and concurrent enrollment based on authors of the chapters and provides information in sections to allow the reader to understand how the chapters pertain to each other. The chapters’ topics reference the same aspect within dual and concurrent or a different way of making them seamlessly relate to each other. Alongside this, the authors speak positively to the implementation and action of dual and concurrent enrollment This book allows individuals to understand the diversity of programs and implementations of dual and concurrent programs nationally. I do believe that it provides a start to the conversation of dual and concurrent enrollment for individuals that have not been exposed to this type of program. This book covers fundamental pieces in which the programs can be seen in implementation, creation, and evaluation. I highly recommend it. This collection of chapters about concurrent and dual enrollment will enrich the knowledge of individuals that hope to grasp and further their understanding of this concept in practice, research, and as a family member or student.
Maria Luz Espino, M.A. is a doctoral student in the Higher Education Administration program at Iowa State University. She holds a Masters degree in Educational Policy and Leadership from Marquette University and a Bachelors degree in Community and Nonprofit Leadership with an additional major in Gender and Women Studies from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She investigates issues of college access and retention of first-generation, low-income students. Her primary focus aims at understanding experiences at community colleges and four-year institutions through the college students' intersections of gender, race, and sexuality.