Considerable research shows that PSEO and other programs allowing high school students to earn college credit are important opportunities for Minnesota students. Dual credit helps to effectively address many of Minnesota’s most critical educational issues: gaps between student groups, high school graduation rates, college entrance rates, remediation rates, college completion rates and college debt loads.
PSEO also is a valuable strategy for helping improve Minnesota’s high schools. Research by the Minnesota State Auditor found that more than half of the high school principals surveyed felt PSEO increased collaboration between high schools and colleges (Minnesota State Auditor). Moreover, some school district leaders have acknowledged that PSEO has helped encourage their high schools to add additional dual credit courses which are taught on the high school campus that they hadn't offered previously (Nathan, et. al, 2005).
4 Year Graduation Rates
A joint Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System study showed that students from low income families and students of color who participated in even one PSEO or concurrent enrollment course had high school graduation rates up to 39 percentage points higher than students who had not partaken. (See chart above.)
Students with special needs also participate and can be successful in PSEO. One study found that “Eight percent of the reported participants were students with disabilities or special needs. Of the eight percent, the majority of students were those with learning disabilities. However, all disability and special needs groups were represented” (Lange, et. al).
Minnesota ranks fifth in the nation in average college debt accumulated by graduates. The average 4-year (public and nonprofit) college debt is $31,579 (Institute for College Access and Success).
PSEO and other dual credit courses can help save individual students and families thousands of dollars and collectively save Minnesota students millions of dollars. A 2015 Minnesota Department of Education report found that in the 2013-2014 school year, Minnesota students earned 154,650 college credits via PSEO (MDE, 2015). The University of Minnesota cited an average cost-per-credit for that school year of $463.85 (Williams). Recognizing that all PSEO courses were not taken at the University of Minnesota, but using their course costs as an average, that would amount to more than $71,700,000 ($71.7 million) in savings for Minnesota students and their families.
Some research shows the value of high school students taking college-level courses, specifically those on college campuses. For example, research cited by Columbia University Teachers College asserts, “Where students take their college courses makes a significant difference… A statewide study of dual enrollment students in Florida found that students who took dual enrollment on college campuses had higher rates of college enrollment and degree attainment. Students who took dual enrollment courses on high school campuses showed no significant improvement in college outcomes (Community College Research Center, 2008).
The aforementioned citation from the University of Minnesota research noted that while there were benefits from participating in all kinds of dual credit, “PSEO students tend to graduate at faster rates than students from other [dual-enrollment] programs” (Maruyama, et al.). Below is a graph detailing PSEO Participation over time; for the full report click here.