Optimizing Technical Education Pathways: Does Dual-Credit Course Completion Predict Students’ College and Labor Market Success?

L. Allen Phelps, Hsun-Yu Chan


Post-recession Federal policy initiatives, such as secondary/postsecondary career pathways and gainful employment higher education accountability standards, prioritize the alignment of education practices with market-driven outcomes. Using longitudinal student record data merged from college and state K-12 data systems with the Unemployment Insurance wage records, this study examined the relationship between college and career success and the completion of dual credit courses in high school. During 2008-10, nearly 30% of graduates from 20 high schools who subsequently enrolled at a regional public technical college transferred an average of 6.0 dual high school and college credits. After controlling for several high school-level and individual-level factors, hierarchical linear models revealed that dual credit learners had significantly better outcomes than non-dual credit learners in terms of college course completion rates, second year retention, three-year graduation rate, as well as earnings in 2012-13. While our findings are limited to an upper Midwest community, they extend and highlight the positive relationship between high school dual credit completion and later college and labor market outcomes. Compared to dual credit courses completed on the college campus, courses offered at the high school and taught by high school career and technical instructors consistently predicted greater levels of college student success and better labor market outcomes. Additionally, several actionable student-level factors were associated with the significant college and career pathway outcomes, including high school preparation in mathematics.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21061/jcte.v31i1.1496


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