The impacts of dual-credit programming for at-risk and non-at-risk students
Dual credit programming provides the opportunity for students in British Columbia to take courses at a post-secondary level in their grade 12 year. In School District #47, Powell River, these programs have been in existence for several years. These programs serve to develop a skilled work force for the immediate community and beyond. These programs are highly valued by the school district as, in addition to providing the foundations for a skilled work force, they are also seen as an opportunity for students who struggle with traditional, academic programming to complete high school. This is especially true for students who have been traditionally perceived to be at-risk. Previously, however, no study had been undertaken to determine if these programs have actually had an impact on students' engagement in school and on their capacity for both academic and career success. To assess this, two surveys were conducted with students in the 2010-11 dual credit programs that were offered in trade and career related areas (welding, automotive mechanics, carpentry, culinary arts and cosmetology). The surveys were designed to determine if participation in dual-credit programs increased students' perception of their school engagement and their capacities for career and academic success and if the impact of participation in dual-credit programming in these areas was different for at-risk and non-at-risk students. The study concluded that, overall, students did report improvements in each of these categories and that at-risk students experienced greater increases in these areas than did their non-at-risk peers. This leads to further questions that relate to identifying which factors in the dual credit programs contribute to this growth and the impact this growth has on students? future academic and career choices and opportunities.