Chelan-Douglas Trends e-Newsletter

RUNNING START CONTINUES STRONG ENROLLMENT -

"Two Outs with One Pitch", "Double-Up", "Twofer", and Dual Credit high school courses - who says high schoolers can't have their cake and eat it too?

High school students who take full advantage of the Running Start (RS) program can complete their first two years of college at the same time they complete their last two years of high school.

RS students can take some or all of their classes at a college or university, and can participate in RS as high school juniors, seniors, or both years. RS students have access to the entire course catalog of the college they are attending; they simply must address pre-requisite requirements like any college student. RS students can take both traditional college courses and vocational courses. They are able to earn an Associate's degree if they take classes at a community college, or complete their General Education Requirements preparing for a four-year degree at any of the five public universities in Washington State.

The graph for the Number of RS Students and their Share of the 11th and 12th Grade Enrollment in Chelan and Douglas Counties shows that during the 2015-2016 school year, total RS enrollment was 435 students, increasing from 165, or by 164% since the beginning of the series during the 1997-1998 school year. As a share of the 11th and 12th grade enrollment, RS enrollment was 14.5% during the 2015-2016 school year, exceeding the state share (14.4%) by 1/10 of a percentage point. The 2015-2016 RS enrollment in the combined counties was the third highest in the series and the overall trend from beginning to end is a steep incline.

Chelan County, Douglas County and the City of East Wenatchee all have similar trend lines - a generally steep increase from the beginning of the series, with a drop-off over the last couple of school years. During the 2015-2016 school year, the City of Wenatchee matched 2011-2012 as the year with the highest actual number of RS students, 179, and produced the second highest share of the 11th and 12th grade enrollment in the series at 14.5%.

Perhaps part of the reason for the declining numbers of RS participants over the last two school years are the other options high school students in Washington State have to earn dual credits. Ultimately, RS is one of a many "dual-credit" options for high school students to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. As previously mentioned, this indicator has increased by 164% since the beginning of the series, but has only declined by 13.9% since the high mark since the 2013-2014 school year.

According to the June 2014 report "Learning by Choice: Student Enrollment Options in Washington", along with RS, high school students have a quite a few options to earn dual credits. There are Advanced Placement (AP) courses, College in the High School, the International Baccalaureate, and the Tech Prep program. Although each program is unique, the similarity among each is that they provide the ability for the high school students to simultaneously earn high school and college credits. Part of the same "Learning by Choice" legislation of 1990, middle school students have the opportunity to earn high school credits if they successfully meet the academic requirements of an eligible course.

Will White, counselor at Wenatchee High School Counseling and Career Center, says "At Wenatchee High School we're seeing an increase in both Running Start students and students taking advantage of College in the Classroom. We're working to create as much flexibility and as many options for our students as we can. Along with potential credit tied to AP testing we offer a nice menu of opportunities for our students."

Although this indicator has seen slight decreases to the enrollment numbers over the last few school years, since the beginning of the series the rise is dramatic. The most recent year, 2015-2016, still posted the third highest total students enrolled in RS and the third highest share of the 11th and 12th grade population in the series. With students enjoying increasing options to earn dual credits, this indicator still shows there is strong interest in RS.


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