Louisiana sees racial gaps in dual enrollment courses


FILE – In this April 15, 2019, file photo, instructors from Raphael House lead a classroom discussion about consent and healthy relationships with a class of sophomores at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Ore. Most young Americans believe in the value of higher education, but many also believe that a high school diploma alone is enough for success, and they view job training as better preparation than any type of college degree, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana continues to see major racial gaps in which students take high school classes for college credit, an education consultant told public school and college leaders.

The Advocate reports the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Regents received a report showing 22% of Black students take the classes known as dual enrollment courses, compared to 42% of white students.

The percentage of students enrolled in the classes drops as the percentage of Black students in a school rises, according to the data from Adam Lowe, a consultant with Education Strategy Group.

The first annual report on dual enrollment came in a Wednesday meeting between the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which oversees K-12 public schools, and the Board of Regents, the state’s higher education policy-making panel.

“To develop talent and eliminate equity gaps in higher education, much greater intentionality and commitment is needed from all high schools, school systems, colleges and universities in harnessing these successful programs for the benefit of students of color, those from low-income households, first-generation students and special education students,” the report said.

State leaders are trying to make dual enrollment courses a bigger presence since Louisiana has long lagged other states in the number of high school students who earn college credentials, according to The Advocate. Studies show high school students who take the classes are more likely to enroll and finish college.

During the 2018-19 school year, the last academic year before the coronavirus pandemic, 32% of public high school graduates took at least one dual enrollment course.

Lowe said eight public school systems feature dual enrollment participation by 50% or more of its students: the districts in Avoyelles, Caldwell, Grant, Red River, St. John the Baptist, St. James, St. Martin and St. Tammany parishes.

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