OVAE: Office of Vocational and Adult Education
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Accelerating Transitions through Credit-Based Programs

Research and Evaluation | Noteworthy Practices | Additional Links

Promoting college access and building an academic foundation for success in college are widely accepted educational goals, particularly as the need for postsecondary credentials increases. Although there are many initiatives and programs designed to facilitate the transition to college, one approach that has grown in the last decade allows high school students to take college courses and to earn both high school and college credit. These programs are often referred to as credit-based transition programs and include:

Parents and policymakers encourage the growth of these efforts because they expose students to both the academic and social realities of college and at the same time are reported to reduce the cost of a college degree. While these programs, to varying degrees, support students in their transition from high school to college, each individual program differs. For example, students that participate in AP or IB programs take high school based courses with specially designed curriculum. Students receive credits, based on specific assessment policies set by each individual institution, once they enroll in college. On the other hand, students enrolled in courses for dual credit are exposed to the same curriculum offered at the partnering postsecondary institution and awarded credit upon successful completion of courses. In addition, three of the programs are sponsored by national organizations, Tech Prep is supported by federal legislation, and dual enrollment programs, in at least forty-seven states, are governed by state policies.

Research and Evaluation

  • Promising Outcomes for Tech Prep Participants in Eight Local Consortia: A summary of initial results (2001) download files PDF (402K)
    Longitudinal study that examines the experiences of Tech Prep students to determine if participation in a Tech Prep program influences education and labor market outcomes.

  • Promoting College Access and Success: A Review of Credit-Based Transition Programs (2003) download files PDF (565K) download files MS WORD (118K)
    Report examines programs and their characteristics and what is known about their ability to increase college access and success for a wide range of students.

Noteworthy Practices

  • Middle College High School at El Centro College (TX) is a joint effort between the Dallas Independent School District and the college. The program was created to provide academically capable students with an opportunity to complete their high school courses, and get a head start on college work.

  • The College Tech Prep Program at Central Piedmont Community (NC) is a seamless educational program that begins in the 9th grade and continues through high school and into community college. At the end of the program student's obtain a 2-year associate degree, a 2-year certificate, or complete a 2-year registered apprenticeship.

  • The Advanced Studies Program at Baltimore City College (MD) offers two college-level programs for highly motivated students in 11th and 12th grades. Students who want to take individual courses can elect AP courses. Students who want a complete two-year college level liberal arts program may apply to the International Baccalaureate program.

Additional Links

  • Advance Placement (AP) administered by the College Board, allows students to potentially earn college credit by talking an end-of-course exam. There are approximately 24 AP exams in such subjects as Art History, Spanish, and Calculus.

  • International Baccalaureate (IB) program started as a liberal arts course of study for students in international schools around the world. Students take exams in six specific fields and earn credit, at the discretion of colleges, based on cutoff scores.

  • Tech Prep is supported, at the federal level, by the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act. The legislative framework calls for a program of study that combines at least two years of secondary and two years of postsecondary education.

  • Middle College High School's (MCHS) help students at risk of dropping out meet graduation requirements and transition to college. Located on college campuses, students usually take high school courses and when ready take courses at the partnering postsecondary institution.

  • Dual Enrollment programs are based on specific agreements between high schools and colleges. In most states, dual enrollment legislation governs these arrangements and mandates specific program features, such as eligibility criteria. (Use Dual/Concurrent Enrollment in drop down menu)

  • Early College High Schools are small schools from which all students graduate with an Associate of Arts degree or enough college credits to enter a four-year, baccalaureate program as a college junior.

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Last Modified: 09/19/2007