Bennet, Hatch Introduce Bill to Expand Dual, Concurrent Enrollment Opportunities for High School Students

Bipartisan Bill Encourages Schools to Expand Opportunities for Students in Career and Technical Education Courses

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today introduced a bill to give more high school students the opportunity to take career and technical education college courses that can help prepare them for success in the 21st century. The Workforce Advance Act will help strengthen and expand dual and concurrent enrollment and early college high school options as part of Perkins-supported career technical education (CTE) programs. Strong CTE programs can provide vital access to the knowledge and skills needed for job and career success.

"At a time when higher education is more important for success in the 21st century economy than ever before, we need to help create opportunities for students in high school to prepare for college and their future careers," Bennet said. "Tens of thousands of kids in Colorado are already taking advantage of dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities, which has helped more of them enroll and do well in college. This bill will help improve career and technical education programs by expanding these opportunities across the country to allow even more students to benefit."

"This bill creates a fast, affordable route for students to gain the skills and earn the credentials they need to compete in today's global economy," Hatch said. "Concurrent enrollment programs are demonstrably effective in helping young men and women prepare for their future careers. Take, for example, my home state of Utah: In 2015 alone, our students earned a variety of career certifications and collectively completed more than 180,000 credit hours of college-level courses-all before graduating high school. With each class students took, they were one step closer to finding a job or earning a college degree. I urge my Senate colleagues to help us empower America's youth and strengthen our nation's workforce by supporting this critical legislation."

The Workforce Advance Act encourages states to examine how they can expand access to CTE dual and concurrent enrollment and early college high school courses. Dual and concurrent enrollment programs and early college courses allow students to earn college credit while still in high school. The bill would allow states to invest leadership dollars in expanding access and supporting teachers and districts to increase the number of courses offered. It would also encourage districts to strengthen CTE programs by incorporating college credit opportunities.

The bill would allow schools to use a portion of the funding they receive through the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act for tuition and fees for CTE college courses. It would also allow school districts to use funding to support teachers pursuing the credentials needed to teach these courses in their high schools, helping to remove a barrier to providing access to college credit. Finally, the bill would allow the Department of Education to use national CTE activities to help identify successful methods and best practices for providing dual or concurrent enrollment programs and early college high school career and technical education opportunities.