Dual enrollment (DE), an arrangement by which high school students take college courses, is becoming increasingly popular as a means of improving high school education. However, there is little rigorous evidence on its impact on student outcomes. This working paper from the National Center for Postsecondary Research represents the first attempt to use a regression discontinuity (RD) design to gauge the causal effect of DE on the likelihood of high school graduation, college enrollment, and college completion among students who are on the margin of eligibility for participation in DE.
In two separate RD analyses, the paper examines the effects of taking an academic DE course in any subject and the effects of taking a DE course in college algebra. While the former appears to have no significant effects on student outcomes, participation in DE algebra was found to have large and significant effects on college enrollment and graduation rates for students on the margin of participation eligibility.