HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii public school students who take dual credit courses are much more likely than their peers to go to college and stay in college, new figures show.
The findings come as more Hawaii students are taking dual credit courses, which offer high school and college credits simultaneously, and as the state seeks to partner with the University of Hawaii to greatly expand dual credit offerings.
Some 81 percent of Hawaii Class of 2015 graduates who took dual credit courses enrolled in college, the new numbers show. Among those who didn't take dual credit courses, the college-going rate was 53 percent.
"It's a game changer," said Karen Lee, associate vice president and executive director of Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, who presented the statistics at a Board of Education meeting this week.
Dual credit courses are increasingly being offered on high school campuses, but are also offered on college campuses. They differ from Advanced Placement courses, in which students take a course then earn credit after securing a certain score on an end-of-year test.
About 10 percent of Class of 2015 graduates took dual credit courses. That's up from 5 percent for the Class of 2011.
Educators say the higher college-going rates among dual credit course takers obviously says something about the students who seek dual credit classes.
But dual credit programs themselves are also likely to be steering more students into college. Students who get college credit while still in high school, educators say, are more likely to see themselves pursuing higher education and are more prepared for the rigors of college-level courses.
"Now that we're seeing some of the outcomes, we definitely want to further expand programs," Lee said.
The state Department of Education is looking to partner with the University of Hawaii to expand dual credit programs, and plans to make a request for funding in next year's legislative session.
The P-20 figures also show that the higher college-going rates persist for economically-disadvantaged students.
Some 76 percent of economically-disadvantaged students in the Class of 2015 who took dual credit courses enrolled in college. The college-going rate among students who didn't take dual credit courses was just 41 percent.
Dual credit course takers are also much more likely to stay in college, the P-20 figures show.
More than 8 in 10 of the economically-disadvantaged students in the Class of 2014 who took dual credit courses stayed in college for at least a year. That's compared to 67 percent among those who didn't take dual credits.
The one-year persistence rate was also higher among non-economically disadvantaged students, too.