The road to dual enrollment: After accreditation

In The Road to Dual Enrollment (Part I), I discussed a few of the challenges experienced by dual enrollment programs, including lengthy accreditation processes and access to professional development opportunities. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the obstacles instructors face after they become accredited, including standardization, access, and the affordability of materials. See how online learning resources can help tackle these problems.

Developing a collegiate-level course with minimal resources

After receiving my accreditation and transitioning from high school teacher to dual enrollment instructor for Lee College in Baytown, Texas, I was given a college textbook and a sample syllabus from my department mentor. Within around two weeks I was expected to develop the learning objectives, scope, depth, breadth, and rigor for an entire course, Biology I for Science Majors. The curriculum of this course needed to match the scope and rigor of a collegiate curriculum.

I spent days reading through an entire textbook that I hadn’t previously used in my Advanced Placement® courses and brainstorming appropriate labs for the equipment that I had. I didn’t have a single test, assignment, or lab manual to follow. While my mentor gave me some of his most successful labs, I needed to make sure they didn’t use materials my school didn’t have in stock or couldn’t afford. The scope of the task seemed almost insurmountable.

The impact of online resources

Finally, after making little progress, I reached out to the department chair and department secretary to see what online resources were available. I was provided with an educator account for the associated digital learning platform for my text and was overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of material available to me.

Digital access to platforms such as MyLab™ and Mastering™ are imperative to dual enrollment teachers who are often starting from scratch. The pre-built assignments, test banks, online laboratory simulations, and study modules would have taken years of collaboration and effort to develop. Delivering course materials with such a platform provides instantaneous access to collegiate-level resources.

They also let instructors create coordinator courses. In these instances, college professors can actually create and maintain a set of nested courses for dual enrollment classes at various high schools — pushing the same assignments, tests, and content from the college to the high schools.

Digital learning platforms address affordability

30% of respondents to our surveys at the national and regional NACEP conferences indicated that funding and affordability of materials is one of their greatest program pain points. An additional benefit to using online learning platforms is the affordability for the high school partners.

During my first years as an instructor for Lee College, I would drive 50 minutes each way after school to run student samples on equipment such as PCR machines or high-speed centrifuges because my high school couldn’t afford the $10,000 investment for this equipment. But if a high school has access to the laboratory simulations found in Mastering Biology, they can provide engaging, application-based experiences that can replace thousands of dollars of equipment.

Online learning platforms also provide additional affordability through eTexts. These platforms often contain eTexts so students can avoid the separate cost of purchasing a print textbook.

We’ll continue to explore additional challenges faced by dual enrollment programs in subsequent blogs. Read part I of this blog series and stay tuned for future posts centered around high school student readiness and preparation tools for college courses.

About the author
Julie Cavanaugh

Julie Cavanaugh

Julie Cavanaugh earned a BS degree in Biochemistry & Microbiology from North Carolina State University as a member of the Park Scholarships. She pursued graduate studies at Duke University and completed an MS degree in Biology at Texas A&M Commerce. After several years of research in Virology she decided to pursue a career in secondary education full time. Within five years, she had attained school, district, and regional teacher of the year cementing her desire to stay in the field. She served as an instructional coach and program coordinator for Sheldon Early College High School in Houston, Texas before transitioning to a dual-credit instructor role teaching Biology I & II in conjunction with Lee College and Hargrave High School. She is passionate about dual-credit programs and the potential they have to transform the traditional high school setting. Julie recently joined the Pearson Customer Success team to help us better serve customers in the dual enrollment and APHE space. She still resides in Houston, Texas, where in her spare time she travels abroad and trains for ultramarathons.


Dual enrollment programs
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