Dual Enrollment for College Completion: Policy Recommendations for Tennessee
To meet its college completion goals Tennessee enacted a ground-breaking array of postsecondary education reforms. These include revising the funding system for state colleges and universities; implementing coherent transfer curricula, course numbers, and pathways; and reforming the structure and delivery of developmental education. These reforms have garnered national attention and are likely to improve completion rates among students entering Tennessee’s postsecondary institutions. But alone, they may not be enough.The seeds of college completion begin well before students ever arrive at the college door. In order to achieve its completion goals, Tennessee must ensure that larger numbers of students enter college—for if students do not enroll, they cannot finish. Developing a robust postsecondary pipeline requires that students be academically ready and financially able to enter college. Currently, too many Tennessee high school students are not ready for college—decreasing the total number of potential college graduates in the state. Notably, according to Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) statistics, fewer than 60 percent of the state’s high school graduates enroll in college the following fall. Moreover, according to the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), students in Tennessee’s public two- and four-year colleges rely on grants and loans to a greater degree than the national average. Ensuring that Tennessee students enter college and can afford to remain enrolled until they graduate are essential steps toward improving the college completion pipeline. Without a robust pool of students entering and staying in college, it is not possible to meet the state’s goals.
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