Good news about progress for all kinds of young people

Khalique Rogers and Brittney Poole help illustrate a very encouraging trend in Minnesota. They are among the growing number of Minnesota students who are earning college credits while still in high school. Equally important, the participation gap is getting smaller in most dual credit programs between students of different races and income levels.

Khalique, a senior at Gordon Parks High School in St. Paul, wrote that educators at his school “have introduced and pushed me to believe that college is a possible opportunity.” He is taking a College in Schools math class and a CIS public speaking class. These and other opportunities “made me work harder to have my dreams become reality.”

His words affirm growing research about the value of dual credit (high school-college) courses, especially for students from low-income families and families with no prior college graduates. Overall, more young people are saving money and making themselves better prepared for some form of higher education – a one-, two- or four-year program.

The accompanying chart helps illustrate Minnesota’s progress. This chart shows growth in participation from fiscal years 2007-12 in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Post Secondary Enrollment Options; and growth from fiscal years 2009-12 in Concurrent Enrollment. Each allows high school students to earn free college credits.

Dane Smith, an award-winning journalist who now directs Growth and Justice, a research and advocacy group, recently wrote about this topic. He explained: “Affluent and highly educated parents begin steering their own children at a very early age toward post-secondary completion. By middle school or high school, these advantaged kids often are already likely or assured of admission and completion. We know from our research at Growth & Justice that early and aggressive efforts to get ALL students on track to some form of post-secondary training or education pay off.”

Smith continued, “Especially effective are programs that allow students to get a few college credits while still in high school. Closing racial and income disparities, by improving completion rates and the quality of post-secondary training and education, is the most important investment we can make toward healthy and sustained business growth in Minnesota. Consensus on this fact is overwhelming.”

There’s plenty of work left. But it’s important to acknowledge progress. This has come, as Smith writes, from growing agreement among K-12, college and university educators, Gov. Dayton, Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius and legislators of both parties, business and community groups. More well-educated, better-prepared young people will help produce a stronger, healthier Minnesota.


Enrollment growth in college credit-earning courses at Minnesota high schools


Program AP IB CE    PSEO

Overall increase 44% 70% 14%    9%

Low income 146% 124% 27%    40%

Minority 44% 107% 21%    18%

Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, directs the Center for School Change.  Email him at [email protected]