Governor Raimondo's Prepare RI Dual Enrollment Fund provides funding for qualifying students to take college courses from Rhode Island’s public higher education institutions as part of their high school requirements at no cost to the student or family. The initial state investment in this program for the 2015-2016 school year was $1.3 million, and given its tremendous success, the program has been renewed for the 2016-2017 school year.
The term dual enrollment is generally used to refer to students being enrolled simultaneously in college courses while they are enrolled in secondary school. Dual enrollment courses are taken on a college campus, where they are taught by college faculty, and concurrent enrollment courses are taken at the students' schools, where they are taught by high school teachers that meet instructional requirements.
The Prepare RI program provides students with rigorous academic enrichment and enables them to improve college readiness, gain momentum to reach their academic goals, and reduce the overall cost of earning a postsecondary degree or credential. During its first year (2015-2016), over 3800 students took advantage of the opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school, and these students took nearly 6000 college courses at one of the three public institutions (URI, RIC, or CCRI) or at their high school.
Ninety-five percent of all eligible high schools participated in Prepare RI, with the highest participation percentages from the Academy for Career Exploration (Providence charter), the R.I. Nurses Institute Middle College Charter School, the Metropolitan Career and Technical Center (The Met), Smithfield Senior High School, and Scituate High School. Among participating students in the 2015-16 school year, 29% were low-income students. Just under 50% of the participating students earned a grade of A- or better, and about 80% earned a B- or better.
View the full Prepare RI report.
The Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner and the public institutions of higher education, with consultation from the RI Department of Education, have developed lists of recommended courses for dual enrollment at each of the institutions. These lists are intended to help students and counselors in selecting courses that meet high school requirements and best match students’ postsecondary goals.
For concurrent enrollment courses, the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, in conjunction with the public higher education institutions, has developed a list of concurrent enrollment courses that was approved by the RI Board of Education at its March 2, 2016 meeting. The list includes courses that transfer easily among the three public higher ed institutions, apply widely to degrees and certificates, and allow students to experience rigorous, college-level work.
During the 2013 legislative session, the General Assembly passed the Dual Enrollment Equal Opportunity Act (RIGL §16-100) to enable Rhode Island high school students to be dually enrolled in secondary school classes and college courses. The Board of Education was directed to convene a work group consisting of representatives of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, and stakeholders from secondary and postsecondary education. Dual enrollment regulations were developed out of these discussions. The regulations were first approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education on December 2, 2014 and by the Board of Education on April 27, 2015 and were updated in 2018.