Record Number of Rhode Island Students Earn Free College Credits
Prepare RI program doubles in first year, state covers cost
PROVIDENCE, RI – Thanks to the Prepare RI initiative that Governor Gina M. Raimondo launched last year, the number of students enrolled in courses that earned both high school and college credit more than doubled in the 2015-16 school year, with 3,807 students participating. Participating students accounted for 5,885 course enrollments – more than doubling enrollments from the previous year, according to a report from the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE).
Because of the Governor’s leadership, Rhode Island expanded the program last year to cover the full cost for students participating in dual and concurrent enrollment through PrepareRI. The General Assembly approved $1.3 million to support Prepare RI last year, and renewed the funding for the current school year.
“PrepareRI gives college-bound students a leg up. You enter college with credits under your belt, for free,” Raimondo said. “As a mom who’s already thinking about college tuition, I know that can really make a difference for many families. We’re putting money back in students’ and parents’ pockets.”
“Our goal at RIDE is to support teaching and learning to prepare students for college and careers,” said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “I know of no better measure of college readiness than success in college courses. Prepare RI sets high expectations and offers students the opportunity to take challenging coursework – truly preparing students for success beyond high school.”
“Central High School wishes to thank Governor Raimondo for recognizing all the hard work and accomplishments of our students and teachers,” said Julia Carlson, Principal of Central High School. “Prepare RI is an opportunity for our students to take rigorous classes to prepare for their college experience with the supports at the high school level. We thank you for this honor and seeing the great work of Providence Public Schools.”
Ninety-five percent of all eligible high schools participated in Prepare RI, with the highest participation percentages from the Academy for Career Exploration (Providence charter), the R.I. Nurses Institute Middle College Charter School, the Metropolitan Career and Technical Center (The Met), Smithfield Senior High School, and Scituate High School.
Among participating students in the 2015-16 school year, 29 percent were low-income students.
Just under 50 percent of the participating students earned a grade of A- or better and about 80 percent eared a B- or better.
Courses are of two types: dual enrollment, in which students take a course on the college campus alongside other college students, and concurrent enrollment courses, which are taught at the high school by a high school teacher whom the college has approved to teach the for-credit course.
Rhode Island’s three state postsecondary institutions – Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island – offered a total of 395 courses, with about one-third offered on the college campus (dual enrollment).