Understanding the Impact of Career-Focused Dual Enrollment Programs

Understanding the Impact of Career-Focused Dual Enrollment Programs

The CTE Research Network is pleased to introduce our newest research team. Based at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro, the team includes partners at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the North Carolina Community College System, and RAND Corporation. Principal investigators Julie Edmunds, Ph.D., program director of the SERVE Center at UNC, and Fatih Unlu, Ph.D., a senior economist at RAND Corporation, describe the team's research project and goals.

As researchers, we are entering the CTE realm through a bit of a circuitous route. Over the past 13 years, we have been studying the implementation and impacts of the early college model in North Carolina. Our new study—looking at a statewide dual enrollment program that includes a CTE pathway—furthers that work and brings us into the CTE Research Network.

The early college model in North Carolina consists of small schools that blur the line between high school and college. Students attending these schools are expected to earn a high school diploma at the same time as they receive an associate degree or two years of transferable college credit. Our research has shown that these schools have positive impacts on a host of student outcomes, including enrollment in postsecondary education and degree attainment. The next stage of this study will examine the impact of the model on labor market outcomes, such as employment and earnings.

Early colleges are part of a broader effort to increase the number of college courses taken by high school students. In North Carolina, this broader effort is known as the Career and College Promise initiative, a statewide effort to provide college courses in high school (also known as dual enrollment courses). Career and College Promise consists of three pathways: (1) an early college pathway, (2) a college transfer pathway, and (3) a CTE pathway that is intended to lead to a technical credential or a technical major.

Our new grant from the Institute of Education Sciences will look in depth at the implementation, long-term impact, and cost of the CTE pathway (in addition to the other two pathways). Currently, there is limited research on the impacts of taking dual enrollment courses in CTE subjects, and our project aims to contribute to that literature base. We will also look at the implementation and impact of different types of CTE pathways, such as those with a STEM focus.

We are very excited to be part of the CTE Research Network. Although we know a lot about dual enrollment provided by the early college and college transfer pathways, we are still learning about CTE in general and the CTE pathway as implemented in North Carolina. Our participation in the network will allow us to build on the extensive expertise of its members, greatly enhancing the quality of our work.

Learn more about the UNC research team and the focus of their work as part of the CTE Research Network.

This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education through Grant R305H190036 to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

About the Author

Head shot of Julie Edmunds, Ph.D.
Julie Edmunds, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator/Program Director

SERVE Center, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Head shot of Fatih Unlu, Ph.D.
Fatih Unlu, Ph.D.

Co-Principal Investigator/Senior Economist
RAND Corporation