Press Releases

Provisions from Coons, Warner included in ESEA reauthorization bill

Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill includes support for dual and concurrent enrollment and early college high schools

Jul 08 2015

WASHINGTON – The Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) reauthorization bill passed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and proceeding to floor consideration includes an amendment introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) to improve access to dual and concurrent enrollment and early college high schools. The Senate begins consideration of the ESEA reauthorization bill this week. Congress has not reauthorized ESEA since 2001.

“Earning a college degree is a critical piece of the American Dream,” said Senator Coons. “If we want to see more of our students earning college degrees, we have to invest in programs that make college more affordable and accessible, like dual and concurrent enrollment and early college high schools. I am thrilled to see the Senate’s bipartisan commitment to these successful programs and look forward to fighting for continued federal investment in expanding education opportunities for all Americans.”

“Early college high school and dual enrollment programs not only create clear paths to high skill, high wage, high demand careers, but also make post-secondary education more affordable,” said Senator Warner. “We need to continue to increase coordination between educators, the workforce, and local partners in order to ensure that every student is college and career ready. ”

The amendment adds definitions and allowable uses for dual or concurrent enrollment and early college high school into the ESEA reauthorization bill, a modification that will help states expand these programs. Early college high schools are schools designed so students can earn both a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree or up to two years of credit toward a Bachelor’s degree – tuition free. Dual and concurrent enrollment programs allow high school students to earn credit while they are still enrolled in high school to get a head start on their post-secondary education.

"We are enthusiastic to see dual and concurrent enrollment featured so prominently in the ECAA as an effective strategy for college and career readiness," said Adam Lowe, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. "Sen. Coons and Warner's leadership on this issue has strengthened the visibility of dual and concurrent enrollment in the bill."

Research has shown that early college high school students are significantly more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college, and earn a college degree than other students. Among early college students, 90 percent are awarded a high school diploma, and 30 percent earn an Associate’s degree or other credential simultaneously with that diploma.  Participation in dual or concurrent enrollment also has a statistically significant impact on college enrollment rates, GPA, and graduation rates, including for low-income, first-generation, and minority students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education.