Exploring dual credit data alignment, student populations, and coursework patterns in Texas using a P-16 framework
This multi-faceted study of dual credit programs in Texas was motivated by perceived discrepancies in dual credit data reporting and a lack of comprehensive, statelevel information about dual credit student populations and coursework patterns. Using a P-16 framework, the author explored alignment issues that influence the delivery of dual credit programs and the tracking of dual credit participants in Texas. A review of dual credit partnership agreements between high schools and colleges, an analysis of dual credit course crosswalks, interviews with secondary and postsecondary dual credit coordinators, and a cross-agency analysis of state-level dual credit data provided insight into data and program alignment concerns. These research efforts informed the construction of a database of 2004-2007 Texas public high school graduates who took dual credit courses while in high school. Demographic differences and college outcomes were analyzed for the full cohort and cohort subpopulations. Two ANOVAs were used to explore differences in the number of dual credit courses students took and freshman college GPA by several demographic and outcome variables. Study results showed regional differences in dual credit coursetaking patterns and differences in student populations who took academic dual credit courses, non-academic dual credit courses, and both types of courses. Longitudinal data revealed differences in dual credit coursetaking populations over time, including growth in the number of economically disadvantaged and underrepresented minority students who took advantage of dual credit opportunities. Study findings emphasized the value of improving dual credit data reporting and course alignment practices. Important state-level goals were identified as ensuring: that students have access to rigorous, quality programs; that educators and policy-makers have access to accurate data; and that dual credit partnerships maintain the flexibility to innovate and respond to student needs while preserving program quality and equity.