Dual Enrollment and Regional Collaboration

“Knowing that I’ll be getting my AA degree when I graduate high school helped me realize that this is my time to choose. This is my time to decide what I want to be.” 

Zaid Munir

Dear colleagues,

This is a quote from Zaid Munir, who is a freshman at Eisenhower High School in Yakima, Washington participating in Accelerate ASU – a pilot program where high school students can enroll in first-year college courses and take them online while still in the familiar and supportive atmosphere of their high school. Yakima is providing students with access to Accelerate ASU and a variety of other dual enrollment and early college access pathways because they know how important these structures are to students’ futures. 

Nearly 90% of Washington’s high schoolers say they want to continue their education after high school, but only 50% of Washington’s high school graduates complete postsecondary programs. Structured early college access programs that are intentionally designed, reflect collaboration across K-12, higher ed, and workforce partners, and that focus on students who might not otherwise see college as an option are critical levers for improving education outcomes and meeting workforce needs in Yakima and across the state. US Program president Allan Golston recently sat down with Zaid and other Yakima students to learn more about how these pathways are changing students’ lives. 

And Yakima isn’t the only place recognizing the importance of putting students on a path to continue their education beyond high school before they’ve even graduated. Another example can be found in the Inland Empire of California, where Chaffey College is also working with local employers and K-12 partners to put in place dual enrollment opportunities that include advising support, clear course sequences, and other structures that help students map their interests and education opportunities to in-demand jobs. Many Chaffey College students, including ones we met with during a visit with Bill Gates to Chaffey College, even receive job offers before they’ve graduated college. 

On the other side of the country, the Early College Promise in Massachusetts similarly provides students access to high-quality pathways, including early college access that includes wraparound supports. Taking the commonwealth’s early college work to the next level, students in the “Promise Year” can earn up to 60 college credits (the equivalent to two years of college) within one year of high school graduation. Learn more about how students are rising to the occasion and how it’s helping them achieve their dreams. 

These are just a few illustrations of the models and structures education leaders are putting in place to help students save time and money in their journey to a degree of value. For leaders looking to build on this important work, it’s first critical to understand the data around where and how students are gaining or losing momentum. To help with that, the foundation has partnered with Mathematica to create a new tool that helps leaders take a holistic view of student performance and effective interventions. You can read more about this tool, the Education-to-Workforce Framework below, as well as in Allan’s piece in Governing Magazine

I hope that as you review these examples of pathways work taking root in the field, you come away inspired to imagine what we can accomplish in the school year ahead to put more students on clear pathways that help them reach their aspirations. Thank you for your partnership!


Sara Allan
Director, Early Learning and Pathways
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

WA State Pathways Network and Funding Opportunity

We know it takes collective effort and support to ensure students can successfully transition from K-12 to higher education. In Washington State, collaborative work is underway to invest in locally-led solutions that help students continue their education beyond high school to achieve their aspirations.

Our Washington State work is focused on supporting regions as they help students navigate the K-12 to higher ed transition. Nearly 90% of Washington’s high schoolers say they want to continue their education after high school, but only 50% of high school graduates today enroll in postsecondary programs, including two- and four-year degrees and apprenticeships. 

Our partners at Education First launched an open application for regional partnerships to join Limitless, a collaborative statewide learning network that will focus on postsecondary enrollment. The Gates Foundation is providing funding to help Education First launch and manage this network. The network will be made up of local K-12 and higher education partners who will share information, experiences, and expertise in removing barriers and supporting students in finding and following their path forward after high school. 

Each Limitless regional partnership will receive $25,000 in grant funding each year, as well as technical assistance to help facilitate collaboration and implement strategic, evidence-based solutions. Learn more about the network from Angela Jones, Director of Washington State Initiative at the Gates Foundation. 

Change starts at home, in the communities where our students and their families live, learn, and play. Join the Limitless Learning Network and Deep Dive sites today. 

Education to Workforce Indicator Framework

How well are your state’s education and workforce systems performing for students? How do you know? The surprising truth is that most public officials have a difficult time answering these questions because of disjointed, siloed data systems that fail to assess and address disparities along the pre-K-to-workforce continuum. 

To help, Mathematica, Mirror Group and members of the Gates Foundation’s education data team worked with researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and community advocates to gather input and review more than 40 existing ed-to-workforce data frameworks. 

The result: a publicly available resource centered on student success called the Education to Workforce Indicator Framework
Check out new framework-related resources below and learn more in Allan Goldston’s op-ed in Governing.

  • Visit the Resources page to find new at-a-glance documents, visual handouts, and more. These include: ​​​​
  • Framework at-a-Glance. An overview of the key components of the framework, its intended uses, and its core goals—a helpful handout for sharing with key partners!
  • Indicators at-a-Glance. An overview of indicator types, why they matter, how they were selected, and examples of indicators in action.
  • Data Equity Principles at-a-Glance. A snapshot of the framework’s seven data equity principles, the six phases of the data life cycle, and an example of a data equity principle in action.
  • Source Frameworks at-a-Glance. A look into the 41 source frameworks that shaped the development of the E-W framework, the indicators each share, and the sectors each covers.
  • Student Pathways. A visual exploration of student pathways to success and how education and workforce systems can support these journeys.

What We Are Reading