By Dr. Jason Taylor
In early April, I attended and presented at the annual meeting of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) in Dallas, TX. CSCC is an affiliate council of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) whose membership includes university-based researchers, community college practitioners, and graduate students who study community colleges. The council is an intimate group of scholars and scholar-practitioners (about 200) who are passionate about community colleges and are leaders in the scholarship on community colleges.
Among the leaders who attended the conference in Dallas was Art Cohen, Professor Emeritus at UCLA and a pioneer in the scholarship related to community colleges. His book, The American Community College, now in its 6th Edition, is used in community college leadership programs around the country. At 88 years old, Professor Cohen delivered a critical, inspiring, and comical keynote at the CSCC conference on historical and contemporary community college issues. He challenged the dominant discourse that college is simply an economic tool to further individual self-interest and argued that college plays a critical role in developing good citizens. He also reviewed new forms of research and laid out a research agenda for community college researchers that included topics such as student learning outcomes and college rating systems. He concluded his talk by encouraging researchers to replicate existing research, form research partnerships with practitioners, and convert research into readable prose that is accessible to multiple audiences. As a young community college scholar, I left the meeting energized and reflecting on the passion that Professor Cohen has for his scholarships, the institution of community colleges, and the students served by community colleges.
A highlight of the conference for me was the opportunity to meet Professor Cohen and pose for a photo holding my recent volume of New Directions for Community College (NDCC). Professor Cohen has been Editor-in-Chief of the NDCC series for years and he continues in this role today. Below is a short summary of the volume:
There is a renewed interest in dual enrollment (also known as dual credit or concurrent enrollment) among many educators and policymakers around the country. Dual enrollment offers high school students an opportunity to experience college and has the potential to save students money on college tuition and accelerate their time to a college degree. It requires collaboration between secondary and postsecondary educators, which can support P-16 alignment efforts. There is also accumulating evidence about the impact of dual enrollment on important outcomes such as high school graduation, college enrollment, and college retention and completion. It is for these reasons, and many others, that dual enrollment is increasingly capturing the attention of educators, policymakers, parents, and students.
These topics and many others are explored in a recently released volume of New Directions for Community Colleges (NDCC) that was co-edited by myself and Josh Pretlow. We framed the volume around three related dimensions: policies, pathways, and perspectives. In the first portion of the volume, the chapter authors explore the intricacies of state policies and how state policies shape and sometimes constrain local dual enrollment programs. In the second part of the volume, authors examine how dual enrollment programs are designed as pathways for various student groups, including CTE students, and increasingly students of color and low-income students in the form of Early and Middle College High Schools. In the last portion of the volume, authors provide the perspectives of dual enrollment stakeholders such as students, high school faculty and staff, and faculty teaching dual enrollment courses. The volume concludes with a chapter describing the emerging accreditation standards and process of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) and a thought piece by Melinda Karp on the relationship between dual enrollment and the college completion agenda.
Community colleges are more likely than other postsecondary sectors to provide dual enrollment programs, and the number of students participating in dual enrollment has increased in the past decade. Community colleges are really leading many dual enrollment efforts around the nation, and this volume explores many dimensions of dual enrollment policy and practice.
The NDCC Volume, Dual Enrollment Policies, Pathways, and Perspectives, can be accessed here.
Dr. Jason Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. He received his Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a research specialization in evaluation methods and concentration in public policy.