Teachers College, Columbia University

Promoting College Access and Success: A Review of Credit-Based Transition Programs

By Thomas Bailey & Melinda Mechur Karp

Many argue that the disconnect between the K-12 and postsecondary systems is a fundamental cause of the seeming inability of high schools to prepare many students for college.

One approach to facilitating the transition to college that has grown dramatically in the last decade is to allow students to take college courses and earn college credit while still in high school. We refer to these programs as credit-based transition programs. Traditionally used to accelerate the progress of high-achieving, college-bound students, such programs have gained attention recently as a way to facilitate college access and success for middle- and even lower-performing students. This paper seeks to answer some of the many questions that exist about credit-based transition programs.

The authors reviewed 45 published and unpublished reports, articles, and books on the most common credit-based transition programs—dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate (IB), TechPrep, and middle college high schools—to examine the programs and their characteristics and to review what is known about their ability to increase college success for students.

Associated Project(s)

Promoting College Access and Success