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Reducing the Equity Gap in Dual Credit Programs

Taryn Ozuna Allen, Ph.D.

Enrollment in dual credit programs have more than doubled in Texas in the past decade and the state has led the nation in helping more students earn college credit while in high school. But few large-scale studies have examined consistency across dual credit programs or explored the relationship between dual credit models and student success.

Associate professor Taryn Ozuna Allen is part of a research team that received a $1 million award from the Spencer Foundation for a four-year mixed-methods study. She will work with professors from the University of Washington and the University of Texas at Arlington to survey instructors and students in Texas to learn how varying educational experiences in dual credit affect postsecondary outcomes for low-income students and students of color.

“Dr. Allen’s work is important to Texas, and to TCU, as this research will explore how dual credit programs build on student success, and which models are most successful in lessening equity gaps,” said Jan Lacina, College of Education Interim Dean.

The study will also compare dual credit to Advanced Placement (AP) programs, which are more structured. The team will look at the effects dual credit programs have on college persistence, completion and cultural and academic socialization. Dual credit courses can be taught on a college or high school campus, a satellite campus or online and instructors can be high school or college faculty.

“Dual credit programs have grown exponentially in Texas and they are an opportunity to promote college access,” Allen said. “But the ways in which dual credit reform has been implemented varies widely. We want to identify which delivery models promote student success, especially for underrepresented students.”

Allen said the study aligns with the 60x30TX Higher Education Plan to increase degree completion in Texas. The research team hopes to make recommendations for high schools and community colleges implementing dual credit programs nationwide.