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Number of high school students earning community college credit hits record high

Date: Friday, March 26, 2021

"press release"DES MOINES - Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education today announced that a record-high number of high school students earned dual high school and community college credit for courses in the 2019-20 school year, according to a new report issued Thursday. Joint enrollment increased to 51,800 students from 50,587 in the 2018-19 school year, a 2.4 percent increase. That includes students awarded 216 associate degrees, 49 diplomas and 642 certificates while they simultaneously earned high school diplomas.

While average annual growth in dual enrollment courses over the last five years is 2 percent, just 10 of Iowa’s 15 community colleges saw increased joint enrollment in 2019-20, the new Iowa Community Colleges Joint Enrollment Annual Report found. High school students participating in joint enrollment programs accounted for 40.8 percent of total community college enrollment. Nearly 45 percent of participating high school students were seniors and 34 percent were juniors.

Iowa high school students earn community college credit at no cost to their families because of supplemental weighting provided by the state’s school funding formula and the contracts that school districts and nonpublic schools typically arrange with their local community college.

“In Iowa we have put a strong emphasis on dual enrollment because it helps students get a head start on college coursework while lowering the overall cost of higher education,” said Gov. Reynolds. “There’s more work to do, but we continue to see the benefits of the strong partnerships that exist between business, industry, and educators as they help students attain the necessary education for a successful career and exciting future.” 

“I am proud that Iowa makes joint enrollment available to all high schools across the state,” said Education Director Ann Lebo. “We will continue to look at ways to ensure joint enrollment growth in future years as a means to jump-start student success in college and career training.”

About 36 percent of the 51,800 high school students were enrolled in community college career and technical education courses in 2019-20, up slightly compared to the previous year, and 64 percent were enrolled in community college arts and sciences courses. Nearly 53 percent of students were female, and 16.4 percent reported being members of racial or ethnic minority groups.

See the 2020 Joint Enrollment Report.