Academic Acceleration: Dual Credit Equity

What is Academic Acceleration?

Academic Acceleration is designed to reduce historic barriers to dual credit and advanced classes, particularly for underrepresented groups. School districts in Washington state that adopt an Academic Acceleration policy enroll students based on their meeting standard on the state exam; however, districts may add additional criteria provided that it does not create disparities. These critera should be objective measures used to enroll students who have reached proficiency into the next most rigorous course in that subject area. Rather than asking students and families to “opt in” to advanced coursework, or relying on identification by subjective measures, Academic Acceleration takes the opposite approach by automatically enrolling students as the default pathway, allowing students to “opt out” if they choose.

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In 2019, Washington became the first state in the country to adopt this automatic enrollment policy for advanced math, English, and science classes in all high schools. The bill, HB 1599, required all school districts to adopt an Academic Acceleration policy beginning in the 2021-2022 school year.

Resources for School Districts

Building Bridges to Dual Credit Report

As of September 2021, a majority of Washington school districts had adopted an Academic Acceleration policy as required by RCW 28A.320.195. The Building Bridges to Dual Credit report includes a list of those districts and links to existing policies where available. It is sorted first by Educational Service Districts and then in alphabetical order to serve as a resource for districts seeking local support on the implementation of their policy. View the guide below or download here.

To open this interactive view of the guide in a new tab, please click here.

To download a printable PDF version of this guide, please click here.

Resources for Policymakers 

This resource guide below was created in 2019 to provide an overview of policy and its evolution in Washington so that policymakers in other states can advocate for Academic Acceleration or similar policies to serve their students. Most importantly, it provides artifacts including a model policy, statute language, and campaign materials to support that advocacy.

To open this interactive view of the guide in a new tab, please click here.

To download a printable PDF version of this guide, please click here.

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Media Coverage on Academic Acceleration and Dual-Credit Programs

The simple policy change that's getting more students of color in advanced courses, Education Week, March 2020

Gov. Inslee signs first-in-nation law to reduce historic barriers to advanced classes, KIMA-CBS, May 2019

Some local districts lead the way in state effort to make advanced classes automatic, Yakima Herald-Republic, May 2019

Guest essay: We need to stop gatekeeping advanced classes, Nate Bowling for the Seattle Times, March 2019

Students from Educated Families More Likely to Take Dual-Credit Courses, Education Week, February 2019

Gifted programs across Washington leave out Black and Latino students - but Federal Way is one model for change, Seattle Times, April 2017

Closing the Achievement Gap, One School at a Time, The Atlantic, January 2015

Proposed Law Would Require Washington Schools to Enroll Students in AP Classes, KUOW, February 2013

Pulling a More Diverse Group of Achievers into the Advanced Placement Pool, New York Times, November 2013

Advanced Students In Federal Way, Wash. Automatically Enrolled In AP, IB And Cambridge Programs, Huff Post, June 2011

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References: Advanced classes improve graduation rates and post-secondary enrollment

Linda Hargrove, Donn Godin, and Barbara Dodd, College Outcomes Comparisons by AP and Non-AP High School Experiences (New York: The College Board, 2008).

Chrys Dougherty, Lynn Mellor, and Shuling Jian, The Relationship Between Advanced Placement and College Graduation (Austin, Texas: National Center for Educational Accountability, 2006).

A. Berger et al., Early College, Early Success: Early College High School Initiative Impact Study (Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research, 2014);

Anna Rosefsky Saavedra, "The Academic Impact of Enrollment in International Baccalaureate Diploma Programs: A Case Study of Chicago Public Schools," Teachers College Record 116, no. 4 (2014);

Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, Longitudinal Impact of the AP Experience Among Advanced Kentucky Students (Frankfort, KY: Author, 2013);

What Works Clearinghouse, WWC Intervention Report: Dual Enrollment Programs (Washington, DC: US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, 2017).

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