Report: APS, Cherry Creek rank among top five Colorado districts for dual enrollment

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AURORA | More Colorado students are earning college credits while still in high school, and students across Aurora are helping to lead the charge, according to a new report released Friday, May 6, by the Colorado Department of Education and Department of Higher Education.

The number of Colorado students enrolled in a dual or concurrent enrollment program grew by about 15 percent, or 4,600 more students, between the 2014-15 and 2013-14 school years, according to the report. In total, nearly 36,000 students, or 30 percent of the state’s 11th and 12th graders, participated in some sort of dual enrollment program last year.

“As college tuition costs continue to increase, dual enrollment programs are becoming life-changing assets for Colorado’s students, enabling them to get a jump ahead, not only on their education but on the investment in their future,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Richard Crandall in a statement. “These programs are increasing in popularity because they help students get college-level experience and college credit, starting them on a smooth path for success after high school.”

Locally, the Cherry Creek School District and Aurora Public Schools placed fourth and fifth, respectively, on the list of districts across the state with the highest number of concurrent enrollees. In the 2014-15 school year, 1,905 students in seven Cherry Creek schools were enrolled in concurrent enrollment programs. APS boasted nine schools with 1,004 students dually enrolled. That breaks down to about 9 percent of APS high schoolers who were dually enrolled last year. In CCSD, about 12 percent of students in grades nine to 12 were taking some sort of college course.

Grandview High School in CCSD posted the highest number of concurrently enrolled students of all Colorado public high schools, according to the CDE and CDHE report. At Grandview, 627 students took part in a dual program.

The local institutions Aurora high schoolers are attending are also ranking highly on statewide lists. The Community College of Aurora posted the second-highest number of concurrent high school enrollees for all two-year higher-education institutions in Colorado, according to the report. Only Arapahoe Community College enrolled more dual enrollees working toward a two-year degree than CCA in 2014-15. The University of Colorado Denver led all four-year institutions.

“With more and more students taking and passing dual enrollment programs, we continue to see the huge benefit these programs offer,” Beth Bean, chief research officer at the Colorado Department of Higher Education, said in a statement. “Our participating colleges and universities continue to see that students participating in these programs are more likely to enroll and progress through college.”

Grandview fed the highest number of students into CCA in 2014-15, with 599 participating in CCA programs. Cherokee Trail High School and Overland High School posted the second- and third-highest number of students at CCA last year with 425 students and 415 students, respectively.

APS also boasted the highest number of students in the state’s Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment (ASCENT) program, with 137 enrollees. Available to APS students since 2010, the ASCENT program allows students to concurrently enroll in college courses while technically still in high school at the expense of a public school district. Qualified students begin to accrue college credits their senior year of high school and take two semesters of college classes the following year, which is seen by the state as a fifth year of high school.

Denver Public Schools posted the second-highest number of ASCENT students with 95 enrollees. Jefferson County Public Schools came in a distant third in the tally of ASCENT participants, with 30 students taking part in the program last year. Overall, the program grew by about 11 percent in 2014-15, according to CDE.

Concurrent enrollment has steadily swelled in Colorado since state lawmakers passed framework legislation for the programs in 2009. Students are able to enroll in the college programs for free.