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Statement on Dual Credit/Concurrent Enrollment Composition: Policy and Best Practices

Conference on College Composition and Communication
November 2012

[Submitted by the CCCC Task Force on Dual Credit/Concurrent Enrollment Composition (Christine Farris, Chair, Linda Ferreira-Buckley, Randall McClure, Miles McCrimmon, and Barbara Schneider) and adopted by the CCCC Executive Committee on November 19, 2012.]


While Dual Credit/Concurrent Enrollment (DC/CE) programs (in which students take college courses in high school) have been in existence for over 30 years, their numbers are growing rapidly for several reasons. State, national, and corporate leaders committed to a better educated and globally competitive workforce have identified DC/CE as one of the ways (along with Advanced Placement and Common Core Standards), to ensure “college and career readiness” and a seamless bridge between secondary and postsecondary curricula and assessment. At the same time, families paying tuition and post-secondary institutions with budget limitations want to accumulate credit hours with less expense. While early DC/CE programs mostly targeted already college-bound students, many new programs are designed to ease the transition for students who otherwise might not have been considered (or who did not consider themselves) college-eligible. In short, a rapidly growing number of high school students are fulfilling requirements through a variety of programs and starting college with credit for first-year composition already completed. Needless to say, a growing number of high school teachers are becoming college teachers as well. On-campus composition programs are facing the pedagogical and economic implications and consequences of these changes.

While we endorse the process by which the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) rigorously accredits whole DC/CE programs and have been guided by their standards in devising this document [], it is not enough that a DC/CE program in a college or university become overall accredited. Discipline-specific guidelines and high school/college English alliances at the local and state levels are also necessary to develop and assess the quality of concurrent enrollment/dual-credit composition.

Decisions to recognize course equivalency and/or to develop DC/CE composition must include re-examination of our assumptions and practices with regard to the on-campus version of composition: the rationale for its requirement, issues of transfer and exemption, curriculum design, instructor preparation and support, and assessment. Clearly, we want to protect the integrity of our profession and the quality of our programs. At the same time, we need to offer the CCCC membership guidelines and resources specific to DC/CE to deal with the challenges they face in their teaching and administrative practices. Only with such a statement of guidelines does it seem feasible for CCCC to support dual credit/concurrent enrollment composition. Across the high school/college divide, we want to keep front and center the needs of student writers at all points in their development and protect the rights of teachers and writing program administrators.

We encourage those who are developing new DC/CE composition courses, reevaluating old ones, and collaborating across secondary/postsecondary sites for the delivery of writing instruction to consult additional existing professional guidelines, including:

(1) Council of Writing Program Administrators “Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition”

(2) CCCC “Writing Assessment: A Position Statement” /cccc/resources/positions/writingassessment

(3) “Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing,” developed collaboratively by NCTE, Council of Writing Program Administrators, and the National Writing Project

I. The Composition Course


DC/CE courses offered to high schools for college credit need to be consistent with the sponsoring institution’s actual composition course descriptions, numbers, titles, credits, goals, outcomes, syllabi, and evaluation, not merely consistent with state general education composition outcomes for articulation and transfer. Distinctions should be made among secondary-level “college prep” courses, Advance Placement (AP) test preparation courses, and actual postsecondary composition courses, which should include work on skills, genres, and assignments that build in complexity and engage students in college-level reading and writing.


a. The class size, student-teacher ratio, and number of teacher preparations should make possible for students (and manageable and non-exploitative for the teacher) the sort of multiple draft and peer-review process typical of on-campus college writing courses. The enrollment cap of classes must be the same as that of composition courses at the sponsoring institution, regardless of student demand or the customary class size of secondary-level English courses at the high school.

b. Teachers’ course schedules should permit time for office hours and writing conferences on drafts that would be available to students if they were taking an equivalent on-campus composition course. Whenever possible, students should have access to the sponsoring institution’s libraries and librarians for research, computer labs, tutors, and technical assistance, as they would if they were taking a composition course on the college campus. If distance or fee structures do not permit such access, equivalent resources should be provided in the high school.

II. Preparation and Support of Teachers and Administrators


Secondary teachers charged with college-level instruction should hold qualifications equivalent to those of instructors hired and assigned to teach composition at the sponsoring institution. Most often, this would include a master’s degree in English, preferably with graduate-level coursework in composition. Those with master’s degrees in Education should have graduate coursework in English, comparable to that of instructors or TAs teaching composition at the sponsoring postsecondary institution.

Application Process:

As part of teacher selection, there should be a formal application process with CV, teaching philosophy statement, and sample materials to be vetted by both the DC/CE program administrators and the postsecondary English/Composition program administrators/faculty. Demand for DC/CE courses in the high school should not determine whether or not a teacher is accepted or assigned to teach DC/CE composition. He/she should be qualified and interested in teaching the course and participating in training and ongoing collaboration.


a. There should be funds, space, and postsecondary faculty expertise necessary for initial and follow-up discipline-specific training seminars that introduce the selected secondary teachers to the partnering college composition curriculum: course goals, assignments, readings, and assessment, as well as current theory and practices in the field of composition. The initial training seminars should be at least equivalent to on-campus instructor preparation.

b. Financial support (stipend, travel) should be provided for training seminars (initial and follow-up), books and materials, graduate credit for the training course, and, if possible, additional English graduate coursework to ensure quality and incentive. Partnering English departments with graduate programs should be encouraged to adjust their course offerings or to institute new certificate or degree programs to meet this need and further the collaboration between secondary DC/CE teachers and on-campus composition instructors.

c. Ongoing support mechanisms—follow-up seminars, regular classroom site visits, classroom observations, review of syllabi and student work—need to address secondary teachers’ strengths, weaknesses, concerns, and ideas as they arise.

On-campus Faculty Liaisons/Mentors:

Institutions with DC/CE programs should either:

(1) consider the training and support provided by the postsecondary faculty member to the DC/CE program part of the faculty member’s workload, with appropriate reassigned time, supplemental salary, and allowances for high school site visits and consultation with teachers, or

(2) hire/appoint an additional faculty member to perform the DC/CE composition liaison/mentoring work. The liaison/mentor should be someone familiar with writing instruction and institutional expectations in both the high school and college settings and willing to build on that knowledge through his/her own composition teaching, faculty development leadership, program assessment, and familiarity with writing across the curriculum.

III. Students


a. Students accepted for DC/CE composition courses should meet the admissions standards of the sponsoring institution whether or not they will be registered for DC/CE courses as degree-seeking. Particularly if students are eligible to take courses apart from or before they are officially admitted to the sponsoring college or university, criteria for admission to DC/CE and the nature and rigor of the college composition course must be explained to students and parents and enforced.

b. All students, regardless of economic situation, should be able to apply for and, if necessary, receive assistance with tuition for DC/CE composition courses.

c. Along with postsecondary administrators, secondary instructors, administrators, and advisors familiar with an applicant’s maturity and skills should have a say in who would and would not benefit from taking DC/CE composition and whose needs may be better met by enrolling in the appropriate composition course in the first year of college.

Additional Coursework:

DC/CE courses should not be considered a one-time inoculation against the need for more work on writing. Students starting college with composition credits completed may benefit from an additional “bridge experience” course or workshop in their first year on campus. Taking into consideration their preliminary DC/CE composition experience, advanced writing courses should be required of DC/CE students, so they will continue to develop the advanced literacy skills needed in the 21st century.

IV. Assessment

Assessment of Students:

a. Assessment of student work should be consonant with the assessment practices of the sponsoring college composition program. Students should be held to the same performance standards and rights and responsibilities as students enrolled in the on-campus course at the sponsoring institution, including those regarding academic dishonesty.

b. High school and college instructors teaching the same course should make use of the same composition outcomes and rubrics and participate in norming sessions to assure consistency in expectations and grading. Sample student papers or portfolios and final grades should be reviewed periodically for consistency across the high school and on-campus versions of the course.

Assessment of Teachers:

If site visits or review of materials and student work reveal that a teacher and/or the course in a particular school is consistently out of step with the curriculum and assessment practices of the sponsoring institution, the teacher should be advised into refresher training.

Assessment of Courses and Program:

a. To ensure quality and ongoing program improvement, student performance in the DC/CE composition course, as well as in subsequent college work and retention, should be documented, compared to on-campus students, and taken into consideration in the ongoing design of the composition course, admission process, and expansion of the DC/CE program.

b. The DC/CE Composition liaison should review teachers’ individual syllabi each semester. Course evaluations should be administered at the end of every DC/CE high school course and reviewed by the DC/CE liaison and administrators. DC/CE teachers should be provided with opportunities—as part of ongoing faculty development and in anonymous surveys—to assess the program and their experiences, including workload and incentives/rewards for participation.

c. Alumni of the DC/CE composition course should be surveyed to determine their sense of preparedness for college writing after one year and at graduation.

d. On a regular basis, findings of program self-assessment should be disseminated in reports available to teachers, administrators, state education leaders, members of the profession, as well as the public, via DC/CE program websites.

V. Resources

Articles, Chapters and Books:

Addison, Joanne, and Sharon James McGee. “Writing in High School/Writing in College: Research Trends and Future Directions.” CCC 62.1 (2010): 147-79. Print.
Authors synthesize findings from large-scale studies of writing and their own research on the differences between writing practices in high school and college and suggest future directions.

Anson, Chris M. “Absentee Landlords or Owner-Tenants? Formulating Standards for Dual-Credit Composition Programs.” Hansen and Farris 245-271.
In response to the rapid growth of dual-credit programs, Anson proposes a possible set of standards for evaluation based on common practices in educational program assessment that address pedagogical integrity, programmatic integrity, student needs, faculty development, and fairness in economic and labor practices.

Blattner, Nancy, and Jane Frick. “Seizing the Initiative: The Missouri Model for Dual-Credit Composition Courses.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 26.1/2 (2002): 44-56. Print.
Authors describe how research conducted by member of the Missouri Colloquium on Writing Assessment (MCWA) produced guidelines for quality control in dual-credit composition courses.

Farris, Christine R. “Minding the Gap and Learning the Game: Differences that Matter Between High School and College Writing.” Hansen and Farris 272-82.
In the face of government and institutional mandates that often simplify composition course alignment and delivery, Farris contrasts the acquisition of credits and attention to students’ critical engagement with ideas that should form the centerpiece of college writing, concurrent-enrollment teacher preparation, and disciplinary collaboration across the secondary/postsecondary divide.

Farris, Christine. “The Space Between: Dual-Credit Programs as Brokering, Community Building, and Professionalization.” Delivering College Composition: The Fifth Canon. Ed. Kathleen Blake Yancey. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 2006. 104-114. Print.
Drawing on WPA experience at Indiana University with curriculum design and teacher preparation in both on-campus composition and the dual-credit version offered through IU’s Advance College Project, Farris analyzes differences in how college and high school instructors view academic writing that need to be considered in the development and support of effective programs.

Frick, Jane, and Nancy Blattner. “Reflections on the Missouri CWA Surveys, 1989-2001: A New Composition Delivery Paradigm.” CCC 53.4 (2002): 739-46. Print.
Authors present findings of CWA research investigating how dual-enrollment courses handle student placement, syllabi, teacher approval, and faculty liaisons.

Hansen, Kristine, and Christine R. Farris, eds. College Credit for Writing in High School: The “Taking Care of” Business. Urbana: NCTE, 2010. Print.
Contributors –including high school teachers, faculty at two- and four-year institutions, and administrators at both the secondary and postsecondary levels—explore the growth, benefits, and detriments of outsourcing composition instruction (AP, IB, Early College, and Concurrent Enrollment/Dual-Credit); offer best practices with regard to student readiness, teacher preparation, curricular content, standards, and assessment; and suggest directions for collaboration and research in what has become a new educational landscape. Includes Foreword by David Jolliffe and Afterword by Doug Hesse.

Hansen, Kristine. “The Composition Marketplace: Shopping for Credit versus Learning to Write.” Hansen and Farris 1-39.
Hansen considers several “brands” of first-year writing in the current composition marketplace and calls for K-16 cooperation in construction of a continuous curriculum that is developmentally appropriate for students and integrated with writing and learning in other disciplines.

McClure, Randall, Kevin Enerson, Jane Kepple Johnson, Patricia Lipetzky, and Cynthia Pope. “Concurrent Enrollment in Rural Minnesota: Addressing the Needs Caused by Shifting Demographics, Economics, and Academics.” Hansen and Farris 189-207.
Speaking from a variety of institutional perspectives, the authors discuss the advantages of concurrent enrollment in addressing the needs of students in rural high schools and universities.

McCrimmon, Miles. “Contesting the Territoriality of Freshman English: The Political Ecology of Dual Enrollment.” Hansen and Farris 208-26.
McCrimmon calls for the profession to take better advantage of what has become a porous border between educational territories, arguing that dual-enrollment collaborations can enrich and fend off test-centered curricula.

Moody, Patricia A., and Margaret D. Bonesteel. “Syracuse University Project Advance: A Model of Connection and Quality.” Hansen and Farris 227-44.
Authors describe Syracuse’s large and longstanding concurrent enrollment program, including composition teacher selection, development, and support.

Post, Joanna Castner, Vicki Beard Simmons, and Stephanie Vanderslice. “Round Up the Horses—The Carts Are Racing Downhill! Programmatic Catch-up to a Quickly Growing Concurrent Credit Program.”  Hansen and Farris 165-83.
Authors describe what they learned about student and high school teacher preparedness from their experiences in a rapid expansion of concurrent-enrollment courses mandated by the state of Arkansas.

Schneider, Barbara. “Early College High Schools: Double-Time.” Hansen and Farris 141-164.
Schneider outlines how private foundations are intervening in secondary and postsecondary education and attempting to speed up college. She raises questions about the readiness and maturity of high school students who take on-campus courses through Early College programs.

Sehulster, Patricia J. “Forums: Bridging the Gap between High School and College Writing.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College 39.4 (2012): 343-54. Print.
Authors offer rationale, guidelines, and suggested readings and strategies for creating a dialogue between high school and college teachers of writing.

Sullivan, Patrick, and Howard Tinberg, eds. What Is “College-Level” Writing? Urbana: NCTE, 2006. Print.
Contributors, including high school teachers, college instructors, students, and administrators, engage the question and point to the need for the profession to acknowledge the complexity involved in defining college writing and advocating for change in curriculum and policy.

Sullivan, Patrick, Howard Tinberg, and Sheridan Blau, eds. What Is College-level Writing? Vol 2: Assignments, Readings, and Student Writing Samples. Urbana: NCTE, 2010. Print.
Contributors offer a range of perspectives, grounded in their own assignments and student work, that provide and encourage further dialogue among high school and college teachers committed to the preparation of successful writers, readers, and thinkers.

Schwalm, David E. “High School/College Dual Enrollment.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 15.1-2 (1991): 51-54.
In an early piece on dual-enrollment composition, Schwalm argues for resistance to dual enrollment because of the necessity for students to work on complex writing tasks in the social and intellectual context of college.

Thalheimer, Steve. “From Advanced Placement Student to Concurrent Enrollment Teacher: A Personal and Professional Evolution.” Hansen and Farris 119-37.
Thalheimer recounts his own experience as an AP student who later faced higher expectations for writing in college. As a current high school administrator and teacher of AP and dual-credit composition, he advocates getting beyond the differences between programs toward the larger goal of cultivating in students a sense that the mastery of writing is not completed, but an ongoing process.

Tinberg, Howard, and Jean-Paul Nadeau. “Contesting the Space between High School and College in the Era of Dual-Enrollment.” CCC 62.4 (2011): 704-25. Print.
In a CCC Special Symposium commemorating the NCTE/CCCC relationship, authors provide overview of how the high school to college transition has become contested of late, particularly with the growth of dual-enrollment. They call for the profession to monitor dual-enrollment student learning more closely and be more proactive in standard-setting and advocacy.

Vivion, Michael J. “High School/College Dual Enrollment and the Composition Program.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 15.1-2 (1991): 55-59.
Expressing a view counter to David Schwalm’s in the same issue of WPA, Vivion argues that well-managed and supported dual-enrollment courses are preferable to other providers of college credit for composition in high school.

Resources, Reports, and Policy Statements:

Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing, 2011, Council of Writing Program Administrators, National Council of Teachers of English, National Writing Project. Web.

Karp, Melinda Mechur, et al. The Postsecondary Achievement of Participants in Dual Enrollment: An Analysis of Student Outcomes in Two States. St. Paul, MN: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education. University of Minnesota, 2007. Print.

Karp, Melinda Mechur, et al. Update to State Dual Enrollment Policies: Addressing Access and Quality. Washington: US Department of Education, 2005.

National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). Web.
The NACEP website includes standards for program accreditation, reports on relevant research, initiatives, and legislation, as well as information on the organization’s annual conference.

Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition. Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2005. Web.

Position Statement on the Preparation and Professional Development of Teachers of Writing. CCCC, 1982. Web. /cccc/resources/positions/statementonprep

Rhodes, Keith. (June 2010). “Dual Enrollment Issues.” WPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies, No. 5. Web.

TYCA Executive Committee Statement on Concurrent Enrollment. Web.

Writing Assessment: A Position Statement. CCCC, 2006 (revised 2009). Web. /cccc/resources/positions/writingassessment

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