Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Xin Ma


The contraction of the blue-collar economy is slowly rendering the high school diploma obsolete as an entry-level requirement for middle class employability. Over the last 40 years, jobs requiring some sort of postsecondary education or post-high school credential increased from 28% to 62%, while lower-skilled jobs, traditionally filled by high school graduates or those without a high school diploma, decreased from 72% to 38%. As automation slowly replaces the blue-collar workforce, it is critical that our educational system provides all students the necessary tools to successfully complete a postsecondary degree or credential.

This study examined two groups of graduating high school seniors and longitudinally followed their postsecondary progress and completion. One group was comprised of students who had taken dual credit college algebra their senior year and the second group consisted of students who had not taken dual credit college algebra at any time during high school. Because enrollment in dual credit college algebra at most postsecondary institutions required a math ACT subscore of 22 or higher, each group was further divided into two subgroups consisting of students with a junior ACT math subscore < 22 and students with a junior ACT math subscore ≥ 22.

Propensity score matching was used to match dual credit college algebra takers with their similar non-participating peers using student senior academic year, gender, race & ethnicity, free/reduced lunch status, school Title 1 status, school census size, final high school GPA, and English and math ACT subscores as covariates. Propensity score matching was followed by linear regression analysis examining the relationship between dual credit college algebra taking and postsecondary enrollment immediately following graduation, first year postsecondary persistence and GPA, time to degree, credential and degree completion and attainment of a STEM or math/technology competency degree. The results of this study showed significant gains for the < 22 ACT math group in postsecondary enrollment, first year GPA, time to degree, and bachelor degree completion. The results for students in the ≥ 22 math ACT group showed significant gains in postsecondary enrollment and time to degree.

Based on the results of this study, implications for educational practice are twofold. First, secondary and postsecondary institutions should work together to increase the support and opportunities for underprepared students to participate in rigorous dual credit coursework, including dual credit mathematics courses. Secondly, high stakes placement exams and ACT/SAT benchmarks need to be replaced with multiple measures instruments measure more than just content assimilation for dual credit college algebra.

This study was limited by the absence of a randomly chosen control group, a lack of standardization in data collection and missing postsecondary data from private and out of state postsecondary institutions. It is hoped that this study inspires further research on dual credit college algebra on its effect on postsecondary outcomes. A qualitative study investigating student motivation, academic confidence, self-efficacy and other affective variables would help to better identify the positive effects of dual credit course taking on underprepared students, which in turn could encourage improved dual credit programming.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)