From the Field

Research Notes: The Impact of Linking CTE to Dual Enrollment

Career and technical education (CTE) has long prepared high school students to enter the workforce. In recent years, educators have worked to augment these career pathways with college credits offered through dual enrollment programs.

A new working paper from the Annenberg Institute concludes that the combination of CTE and dual enrollment is linked to students earning more college credits in high school and with higher rates of high school graduation and enrollment in college within one year after high school.

The research team—Julie Edmunds and Bryan Hutchins from the SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, along with Fatih Unlu, Brian Phillips, and Christine Mulhern from the RAND Corporation—used data from a North Carolina initiative known as the CTE Pathway in Career and College Promise (CCP). The program is designed to offer students training for higher-level skills that can lead to a technical certificate or credit toward a college degree.

About 9 percent of the state’s students participated in the dual enrollment program in 11th or 12th grade, the study found. Female students were more likely to use the program than young men, and White students participated more than those from other racial and ethnic groups. Participation by economically disadvantaged students matched the state average. Rural students were involved at twice the rate of those from urban areas.

The increase in high school graduation rates among the program’s participants echoes other research in the field comparing CTE participants to to other students. The study also captured a large positive relationship between CTE programs and enrollment in community colleges in North Carolina.

This research reinforces the value of combining dual enrollment with CTE tracks, so that students can acquire higher-level skills and get a head start on college or a career.