Today, Governor Newsom signed SB 554 (Roth), a California EDGE Coalition-sponsored bill that would extend the important benefits of dual enrollment to adult students in High School Equivalency (HSE) programs. The bill passed through both the California Senate and Assembly with unanimous support. Click here to view the press release from the Governor’s office.

Research nationally and in California has documented that dual enrollment, a student enrolled in both a high school and community college at the same time, is a powerful strategy for increasing college success and affordability for low-income students, including underperforming students and students from underserved communities. To date, both regular dual enrollment and the new College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) dual enrollment program have focused on students in traditional high schools.

This bill provides a streamlined approach for adults enrolled in an HSE program to concurrently enroll in one or more community college course without tuition or fees. In doing so, SB 554 encourages adult education programs and community colleges to create partnerships and pathways into college for a population of students with historically low levels of participation in post-secondary education and training.

HSE programs provide opportunities for students who were unable to finish high school to earn the first-tier credential they need for career advancement. According to the California Adult Education Annual Performance Report, 64% of adult education students are Latino, 15% are Asian, 6% are Black, and 11% are White, reflecting California’s lower high school graduation rates in communities of color. Dual enrollment improves student’s chances of receiving a college degree or certificate. For example, compared to similar peers, dual enrollees have higher rates of college enrollment (15 percentage points increase on average) and higher rates of subsequently completing a college degree (25 percentage point increase on average).

SB 554 also creates closer partnerships between the adult education programs and community colleges. Based on the experience of some pilot programs the bill can encourage community colleges to deliver credit-bearing courses at adult education and noncredit program sites, further increasing students’ access and chances of success.

A broad coalition of adult education, community college, business, civil rights and other organizations supported and endorsed SB 554 because, as Zima Creason, Executive Director of the California EDGE Coalition, said: “SB 554 expands the promise of dual enrollment to some of California’s most underserved students.” The EDGE Coalition will now be working with these allies to promote and support implementation of the new law.

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