Nine dual-enrollment programs that have strong outcomes for underrepresented students of color offer lessons to other community colleges hoping to achieve the same, according to a new report from The Aspen Institute and the Community College Research Center (CCRC).  Researchers found common elements among the programs, including that they evaluate equity gaps and set goals to close them, advertise to communities of color and proactively support struggling students.

The report's takeaways may be especially relevant during the pandemic, which threatens to expand equity gaps in higher education and diminish community college enrollment.

Dual-enrollment often allows high school students to earn college credit by taking community college classes. Participation rates have steadily increased over the past decade, but many programs struggle with equity gaps.

The pandemic has sharpened the focus on these issues, as repeated studies find students of color are struggling more during the crisis than their White peers. It has also underscored the role of dual-enrollment, which is the only enrollment type at community colleges that didn't drop this fall, according to a preliminary report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The new report highlights strategies used by nine community colleges across three states — Florida, Ohio and Washington — that enroll high shares of underrepresented students and have strong outcomes for these learners.

Targeted recruitment can help close equity gaps. Colleges can distribute documents in different languages, as well as reach out to organizations families trust, including churches and local NAACP chapters.

Community colleges can enroll more of these students by working with local school districts to bus them to campus for dual-enrollment programs and by preparing them for placement tests, the report also notes. It calls out Valencia College, in Florida, for using that and other tactics at four high schools that had relatively low rates of dual-enrollment participation for students of color.

Read the full article about dual-enrollment program by Natalie Schwartz at Education Dive.