A new report released last week showed that Florida dual-enrolled high school students completed college at a rate above the national average.

A new report released last week showed that Florida dual-enrolled high school students completed college at a rate above the national average.

Again this year, as it has for nearly a decade, a partnership between Gulf Coast State College and Gulf District Schools is taking providing fodder for those statistics.

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) report found that in the fall of 2010, dual enrollment students accounted for 15 percent of all new students in Florida’s community colleges.

Some 93 percent of those students continued onto a four-year schools and Florida ranked above the national average of dual-enrolled students who graduated from college.

This year, there are 90 dual-enrolled students in the county’s public schools, many of them taking multiple dual-enrollment courses, said Lori Price, Deputy Superintendent for Instruction.

“It is a wonderful deal for children and parents,” Price added.

Dual-enrollment allows students in middle or high school to earn college credits while completing their high school curriculum.

The district has had several students in recent years who completed their credits toward an Associate’s degree in the same semester they graduated high school.

One student attended his community college graduation on the same weekend he walked the stage for his high school diploma.

“People ask me frequently about Advanced Placement courses,” said Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton. “Dual-enrollment is the best version of a poor person’s AP you could have.

“You are earning college credits while you are earning your high school diploma. And you are doing that at no cost. It is one of the best programs we have in the district.”

In comparison to the national average, in Florida a higher percentage of dual-enrolled students immediately entered community college upon high school graduation (52-47 percent) and a higher percentage of those students completed any college credentials within the next five years (64-46 percent).

Addressing those dual-enrolled students who entered four-year college immediately after graduation, 41 percent in both Florida and nationwide, 75 percent of those Florida students, compared to 64 percent nationally, earned college credits within five years.

“Dual enrollment helps students get a glimpse into the college experience while earning college or career credits at no cost during high school,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “This can save students and their families a significant amount of money, reducing a common barrier to higher education.”

In Florida, 25 percent of dual-enrolled courses are STEM related and the CCRC report tossed a spotlight on the partnerships across the state between local school districts and community colleges to make college more affordable.

Nationwide, the majority of dual-enrolled courses are through two-year schools such as community colleges.

“The CCRC report reflects the high quality dual enrollment programs across our state that serve as one of many options to allow students to accelerated college completion,” said Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega.