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Number of high school kids taking community college courses increases

DES MOINES — The number of students who take a community college class while still in high school in Iowa continues to go up.

Department of Education consultant Jen Rathje reviewed the report for the State Board of Education. “Joint enrollment of high school students reached an all-time record high of 51-thousand-800 during academic year 19-20. This accounted for a two-point four percent increase since the year prior,” Rathje says.

She says the enrollment in what are called contracted-courses has increased 146 percent since 2004. Rathje says ten of the 15 community colleges experienced an increase in enrollment in the course last year. Students taking both types of courses make up nearly 41 percent of the community college enrollment. “The highest percentage coming from Northeast Iowa Community College with 49-point-eight percent of overall student enrollment. Followed closely by Des Moines Area Community College with jointly enrolled students making up 48 percent of total enrollment,” according to Rathje.

She says the types of joint-enrollment classes preferred by students didn’t change much. “Thirty-six-point-two percent were classified as career and technical education. Which is a zero-point-six percent increase from academic year 19. And 63-point-eight-percent were classified as arts and sciences — which is a decrease of zero-point-six percent from academic year 19,” Rathje says.

She says high school students who also take community college classes get a lot of benefit from them. “Research indicates that joint enrollment opportunities ease the transition of students from secondary to post-secondary education,” she says. “And students who participate in joint-enrollment are more likely to graduate high school, immediately enroll in college, have higher college grade point averages, and persist to completion compared to their peers.”

Nearly 45 percent of the high school students who take community college classes are seniors, 34 percent are juniors.

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