In states across the country, policymakers are encouraging the growth of dual and concurrent enrollment programs that enable high school students to enroll in college courses. As these courses are often taught at high school locations by college-approved high school teachers, states increasingly are establishing policies to safeguard the quality of these programs to make sure that the full benefits of dual and concurrent enrollment are realized. The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships' (NACEP) work with states is highlighted in a new report by the Education Commission of the States, Dual Enrollment Course Content and Instructor Quality. It outlines four approaches that states use to set expectations for dual and concurrent enrollment course content and instructor quality:
- Local control — Postsecondary institution as arbiter
- Moderated local control — K-12/postsecondary agreement
- Adopting NACEP standards — or a variation thereof
- Requiring or encouraging NACEP accreditation
As author Jennifer Dounay Zinth stated in the report, “The NACEP standards are thoughtful, rigorous standards that, if faithfully applied, should result in authentic college courses being offered in high schools… …the NACEP standards focus on establishing college faculty ownership and academic oversight over course content and instructors and are flexible enough to adapt to a wide range of institutions.”
NACEP’s national standards describe policies and practices that colleges and universities can follow to ensure that concurrent enrollment courses taught by college-approved high school instructors are the same as the courses offered on-campus and that students enrolled in concurrent enrollment courses are held to the same standards of achievement as students in on-campus courses.
"Based on NACEP's 15 years of experience we have seen is that is imperative that concurrent enrollment providing institutions demonstrate the academic integrity of their credits to gain the trust of credit receiving institutions," said Adam Lowe, NACEP's Executive Director and author of a 2010 report on state oversight of dual enrollment. "We are pleased to see growing recognition by states of the importance of establishing minimum quality standards and expectations for all providers."
As the only national set of standards of excellence for concurrent enrollment partnerships, NACEP’s standards serve as a model for statewide quality standards in 8 states—Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Montana, Utah and Washington. Policy in six additional states—Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and South Dakota—require, provide incentives, or encourage colleges to obtain NACEP accreditation. Although not mentioned in the report, state agencies and postsecondary systems in Connecticut, Kentucky and Missouri are also working to align their dual enrollment policies with NACEP standards.