Each partner in a dual enrollment agreement can provide foundational content for professional development in different areas. Dual enrollment courses may be taught by “regular” college instructors who are subject-area specialists without formal training in pedagogy—or by high school instructors who are qualified to teach at the college level but may be unfamiliar with college practices.

In the Classroom

Pedagogy: Innovative classroom methods can engage most students. Project-based, or problem-based, learning can excite students exploring a content area. The practice of “flipping the classroom”—engaging students in active learning, rather than depending on lectures alone—can enrich the interaction of instructors and students.

Special populations: High schools and colleges must abide different regulations for serving students from special populations, including students with disabilities and English-language learners. And high school instructors may be unaware of resources that the college offers for students from special populations, while college instructors typically aren’t trained in methods that best support these populations.

Classroom management: Classroom work that is engaging and clear expectations from instructors can prevent most off-task behavior, but differences in the codes of student conduct in colleges and high schools can create confusion when behavioral issues arise. In general, the college’s code of conduct must be followed in a college course. But instructors in dual enrollment courses offered on a high school campus will need to know whom to call if they need assistance with a student. Instructors also may benefit from understanding the high school’s classroom management procedures and norms, especially if the class is embedded in the high school day.

Health and Safety

Emergencies: If a course is taught on a high school campus by an instructor coming from the college, it is very important that they understand the high school’s safety procedures in different types of emergencies, including communication protocols, when to evacuate a building, and when to shelter in place. College instructors also need to know the high school’s procedures for a student health emergency, such as when to call the school nurse and when to call 911. Regardless of where a class is held, instructors should keep a paper copy of the class roster to take with them in case of an evacuation.

Mandated reporting: As mandated reporters, college instructors must know procedures for reporting suspected abuse, possible self-harm, and other situations where they suspect a student is in danger, and they should be familiar with resources such as government agencies, food assistance, and mental health support that are provided by the college and by the high school. An instructor who believes a dual enrollment student faces immediate harm also may share this information with a high school nurse, counselor, or principal.


Attendance and grades: Regular high school teachers who also teach college courses may need training in college procedures for grading and attendance. Questions to address include: Can they keep attendance online? How do they drop a student? What should they do if a student is not on the roster? The college will need to provide training for all instructors on these and other professional responsibilities, including Student Learning Outcomes and curriculum approvals. Instructors who teach college courses will be evaluated by college officials, either a faculty member or a dean.

Rosters and paperwork: Given challenges in data management across California’s community college system, rosters may not match true enrollment in a class, so instructors will need relevant preparation and training, especially in the event they are asked to help with a student’s enrollment. They also may need to modify their rosters to reflect the ways that individual students identify themselves, especially in terms of gender. And both instructors and students will need to understand the college’s add and drop policies and deadlines—and how adding or dropping a college course may affect students’ high school schedules.

Dual enrollment coordinators should compile a list of resources specific to the college and K-12 institutions in the partnership; some partnerships distribute an instructor’s handbook with this and other relevant information.

Federal Privacy Law

When a minor enrolls in a college course, privacy rights under FERPA (the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act) related to that class transfer form parents to the student. This difference from K-12 schools can be confusing when an instructor teaches in both institutions, especially if a parent is used to speaking directly to that instructor or to having more access to the student’s information.

Whose rules?

Under California law, even if a dual enrollment course is taught on a high school campus, it is a college course, and the college’s policies and procedures apply. But high school faculty have formal training in pedagogy and classroom management and know the students enrolled. When a partnership integrates the strengths of all partners, students reap the benefits.

Funded by the K-14 Pathways Regional Joint Venture, a project of the Strong Workforce Program.