Rewarding dual enrollment in performance-based funding formulas: How states can create incentives for college to high school partnerships

Funding Models /

Far too few students who enter college succeed in earning a certificate or degree. The problem is especially severe at community colleges, where only about 30 percent of students complete certificates or Associate’s degrees within 150 percent of the normal time (Snyder & Dillow 2012).

States are developing a range of strategies to increase college completion rates. Research shows that one promising innovation is for them to “reach back” to high schools and prepare students for a successful college transition (Barnett et al. 2012). This could involve working with a local high school on a specific transition program or offering dual enrollment courses to high school students. However, state policies typically provide colleges few or no supports or incentives to help that happen. The lack of incentives has limited the use of reach back strategies.

One type of incentive system that has been gaining attention in education recently is the use of performance-based funding to reward colleges for improving graduation rates, including achieving milestones toward that goal. This contrasts with the way most higher education is currently funded, based solely on enrollment.