Dual enrollment of high school students in Tennessee’s community & technical colleges increased 68 percent since 2015

Dual enrollment at Tennessee's public community & technical colleges

The number of high school students dual-enrolled in Tennessee’s community and technical colleges has increased 68 percent from Fall 2015 to Fall 2022 – the fastest growing group of students on the college campuses.

Dual enrollment refers to high school students taking college courses for high school and college credit. At its quarterly meeting Thursday, March 30, the Tennessee Board of Regents received a staff report on dual enrollment growth and trends. The Tennessee General Assembly created dual enrollment grants, funded from state lottery proceeds, for high school students to take up to five courses free of tuition at the state’s community colleges and colleges of applied technology.

Dual enrollment at the community and technical colleges increased from 15,779 students in the Fall 2015 term to 26,479 in Fall 2022, a 68 percent increase. Before the Covid-19 pandemic reached Tennessee midway through the Spring 2020 term, the previous dual enrollment peak was 21,637 in 2019. It dipped to 20,219 in 2020, bounced back in 2021 to 21,590, and then increased 23 percent from 2021 to 2022. [See chart attached]

Dual enrollment at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology has more than tripled in seven years, from 2,554 in 2015 to 9,298 in 2022. In Fall 2022, high school students accounted for about 57 percent of the overall TCAT enrollment.  Fields with the fastest growing TCAT dual enrollment are health care, farming operations technology, and welding technology. 

At the community colleges, dual enrollment increased from 13,236 in 2015 to 17,181 in 2022, and high school students comprise about 24 percent of the overall enrollment. Nearly three fourths, 74 percent, of community college dual enrollment students are taking general education courses, including college English and math, that fulfill general education requirements for college and university degrees. And 74 percent of dual-enrolled students at the community colleges have high school grade-point averages of 3.5 or higher.

Thursday’s report to the board by TBR Office of Policy and Strategy staff showed that 69 percent of dual enrolled students at the TCATs are male and 31 percent are female – almost a reversal of the community colleges, where females comprise 62 percent of the dual enrollment population and males 38 percent.

The staff report also included new data and research tools, including a High School to College Pathway data tool that charts pathways from high school to postsecondary success. It can help policymakers determine how many students reach important college milestones, how many recent high school graduates persist to college graduation, and how these patters differ by the region, school district and high school from which the students graduated. The pipeline is one of several metrics in TBR’s overall public Data Dashboards.

In other action, the Board of Regents received informational reports and updates on the Reimagining the Community College Experience initiative, a pilot project launching this fall at Jackson State, Pellissippi State, Southwest Tennessee and Walters State community colleges. Other updates included the TBR Strategic Plan, accelerated courses, legislation and state budget proposals affecting the system.

The board approved revisions to three existing TBR policies – on Academic Retention and Readmission at the TCATs, Councils, and President Emeritus designations related to retirement – and a new policy on Mass Communications. The first revision aligns academic standards for the Aviation Management Technology program to Federal Aviation Administration requirements. The second streamlines the policy to include the technical colleges in various TBR sub-councils. The third creates an honorary president emeritus designation, without pay, for retired TBR college presidents. The new mass communications policy requires colleges to have processes for use of mass emails but gives them flexibility to design processes suitable to their campuses.

Board members also approved 26 new or expanded career and technical education programs at the technical colleges, five faculty emeriti recommendations, and resolutions of appreciation honoring former Regent Yolanda Greene and recently retired college residents Roland Rayner of TCAT Memphis, Stewart Smith of TCAT Athens and Myra West of TCAT Livingston.

Chancellor Flora W. Tydings, Roland Rayner, Myra West, Stewart Smith

The board approved two building naming requests:

  • At Nashville State Community College, naming the new building at its North Davidson Campus in Madison the “Doug and Robbie Odom Building,” in memory of the late Mr. and Mrs. Odom, who owned the family business Tennessee Pride and were advocates of education and the Madison community.
  • At Walters State Community College, naming its Claiborne County Campus in Tazewell the “Eleanor E. Yoakum Building” in honor of Ms. Yoakum, a donor, advocate, trustee and former president of the Walters State Foundation.

The complete agenda, executive summary, full board materials and an archived recording of the board meeting are posted at the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/board/march-2023-quarterly-board-meeting.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 24 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.