Dual credit is a model program that allows high school students to enroll in college-level courses and simultaneously earn high school and college credit. This study estimates the effects of dual credit on outcomes that trace a student’s journey from high school to undergraduate and graduate degree completion. Using panel data with school district fixed effects, this study finds that increases in the share of students earning dual credit are associated with increases in high school graduation; increases in university application, admission, and enrollment; shortened time to degree completion; and increases in degree completion. Districts that increased their average dual credit earned improved outcomes with each increase. Furthermore, dual credit courses produced larger increases in bachelor’s degree completion rates as compared to AP. Finally, evidence suggests that schools can most greatly amplify dual credit effects by prioritizing certain core academic subjects.
Michael Villarreal is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Texas at San Antonio. A first-generation college student, Villarreal served for 15 years in the Texas House of Representatives, including service on committees of Public Education, Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, Ways & Means, and Financial Services. Legislative accomplishments include the creation of a state longitudinal education and workforce data system; programs that supported prekindergarten, college student financial aid, college credit transferability, and workforce development funding. After retiring from the Legislature, Villarreal earned a Ph.D. from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on quantitative evaluation of education policies and programs and their impact on postsecondary education and workforce outcomes, with a special interest in policies that aim to raise the educational attainment levels and earnings of economically disadvantaged students.