Washington State Institute for Public Policy
Dual enrollment (for high school students)
Higher Education
Benefit-cost estimates updated December 2016.  Literature review updated December 2016.
Dual enrollment allows high school juniors and seniors to enroll in post-secondary at a community, technical, and (some) four-year colleges. Students participating in dual enrollment simultaneously earn transferrable college credit while still enrolled in high school. Students elect to participate in dual enrollment programs; the tuition costs are generally paid by the school district and the college. Washington State’s dual enrollment program is Running Start. In this analysis, dual enrollment differs from college in the high school and early college programs.
BENEFIT-COST
META-ANALYSIS
CITATIONS
The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2015). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $6,144 Benefits minus costs $18,870
Participants $10,715 Benefit to cost ratio $13.64
Others $3,900 Chance the program will produce
Indirect ($395) benefits greater than the costs 87 %
Total benefits $20,364
Net program cost ($1,493)
Benefits minus cost $18,870
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Benefits from changes to:1 Benefits to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Crime $26 $0 $62 $13 $101
Labor market earnings associated with high school graduation $5,439 $11,976 $5,517 $0 $22,932
Health care associated with educational attainment $1,283 ($352) ($1,407) $640 $164
Costs of higher education ($604) ($909) ($272) ($302) ($2,087)
Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($746) ($746)
Totals $6,144 $10,715 $3,900 ($395) $20,364
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $1,493 2015 Present value of net program costs (in 2015 dollars) ($1,493)
Comparison costs $0 2015 Cost range (+ or -) 10 %
WSIPP estimates the total cost of one year of dual enrollment by taking the difference between WSIPP's per-student estimate of the total expenditures per community and technical college (CTC) student and WSIPP's per-student estimate of the total cost of regular K-12 education. The average Running Start student in Washington enrolls in 11 credits per quarter (Cowan & Goldhaber, 2015). This equates to a 0.73 of a student FTE (based on full-time load of 15 credits). WSIPP's estimates are based on this average credit load.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Estimated Cumulative Net Benefits Over Time (Non-Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in non-discounted dollars to simplify the “break-even” point from a budgeting perspective. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Primary or secondary participant No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes (ES) and standard errors (SE) used in the benefit-cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
High school graduation 6 17094 0.146 0.115 18 0.146 0.115 18 0.146 0.206
Enroll in 4-year college 4 42045 -0.090 0.192 18 -0.090 0.192 18 -0.090 0.640
College grade point average 1 631 0.262 0.040 17 0.262 0.040 17 0.262 0.001
Graduate with 4-year degree 3 33462 0.181 0.093 23 0.181 0.093 23 0.181 0.051
Graduate with 2-year degree 1 1700 -0.270 0.035 22 -0.270 0.035 22 -0.270 0.001
Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Cowan, J., & Goldhaber, D. (2015). How much of A ``Running Start'' do dual enrollment programs provide students? Review of Higher Education, 38(3), 425-460.

Giani, M., Alexander, C., & Reyes, P. (2014). Exploring variation in the impact of dual-credit coursework on postsecondary outcomes: A quas-experimental analysis of Texas students. High School Journal, 97(4), 200-218.

Jorgensen, D.D. (2013). Concurrent enrollment programs and acquired social capital for students from impoverished backgroundsd: An examination of high school and college outcomes (PhD dissertation). University of Denver.

Rodriguez, O., Belfield, C., Hughes, K.L., & National Center for Postsecondary Research (Ed). (2012). Bridging college and careers: Using dual enrollment to enhance careerand technical education pathways. Ncpr Brief.

Speroni, C. (2011). High school dual enrollment programs: Are we fast-tracking students too fast? Ncpr Brief.

Speroni, C., & National Center for Postsecondary Research (Ed). (2011). Determinants of students' success: The role of Advanced Placement and dual enrollment programs. an Ncpr Working Paper.

For more information on the methods
used please see our Technical Documentation.
360.664.9800
institute@wsipp.wa.gov