More than 38,200 Iowa high school students took courses for college credit last year. That a 50 percent increase from the year before. Oddly, however, no one seems to know if it did any good.

According to an article by Sheena Dooley in the Des Moines Register:

Those [high school] students accounted for more than 25 percent of the enrollment at the state’s community colleges.

State education officials, though, haven’t tracked passing and failing rates of the classes and they don’t know whether course work is as rigorous as that offered at the college level, officials said.

Taking courses for college credit is supposed to help get high school students motivated and earning college credits cheaply before they really start college. Such courses also look better on transcripts for college application purposes.

The trouble is that just taking the courses aren’t good enough. The experience is really only valuable if high school students do relatively well in those courses.

A team at Iowa State University is studying the effectiveness of community college courses for high school students. Previous research indicated that students who earned credits in community colleges tended to earn lower grades once they started at four-year schools. Such research didn’t look specifically at high school students who earned those credits, however.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer