Rhode Island leaders are concerned about students’ postsecondary outcomes given growing evidence that many public-school students in the state leave the system inadequately prepared for college and career opportunities. Recent data show that there are large and disparate outcomes across student groups in terms of college enrollment. For example, in 2020, 49 percent of high school graduates experiencing economic disadvantage enrolled in college programs compared to 74 percent of students not experiencing economic disadvantage.1 Early college opportunities have been shown to improve students’ chances of enrolling in college.2 In support of Rhode Island’s strategic goals, this partnership aims to reduce opportunity gaps among historically and currently underserved student groups (that is, economically disadvantaged, race/ethnicity) in terms of the number of high schools offering early college opportunities and the percentage of students earning college credits and participating in early college opportunities.
This partnership will support state education leaders in studying whether and how early college opportunities, including dual and concurrent enrollment and Advanced Placement (AP) programs, help the state achieve its postsecondary enrollment goals. The partnership will bring together a range of partners invested in improving the college and career readiness of Rhode Island youth, and specifically partners who are involved in the state’s early college programs and have the authority to make decisions about their implementation. REL Northeast & Islands will undertake a coaching project to increase school and district teams’ understanding of their early college data and set goals for improvement, as well as support the utilization of Rhode Island Department of Education’s data dashboards. REL Northeast & Islands will also conduct an applied research study through 2024 to investigate the cost-effectiveness of the state’s early college opportunities. Additionally, REL Northeast & Islands and its partners will co-develop a dissemination plan to spread awareness and deepen understanding about, support access to, and facilitate sharing of partnership study findings, implications, and resources, using strategies such as webinars, factsheets, infographics, stakeholder briefings, and videos.
Partner Organizations: Rhode Island Department of Education, Rhode Island School Counselor Association, Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, Rhode Island School Superintendents Association
1 NESSC [New England Secondary School Consortium]. (2021). Common data project: 2021 annual report, school year 2019–2020. https://www.greatschoolspartnership.org/data-report/
2 Shields, K. A., Bailey, J., Hanita, M., & Zhang, X. (2021). The impact of accelerated college credit programs on educational attainment in Rhode Island. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/
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