Low-Hanging Fruit: How Automatic Enrollment in Advanced Coursework is Leveling the Playing Field

PIE Network members in Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington State recently shared details about automatic enrollment policies (also known as academic acceleration), which ensure that students with qualifying test scores in a particular subject are automatically enrolled in advanced coursework in the same subject area. As a result, more students who have proven they’re ready are getting access to rigorous academics. And, states are reducing disparities in access to advanced coursework for traditionally underserved students.

Though each state’s policy has different specifics, all three are built on the same premise. According to Prateek Dutta, Colorado policy director at Democrats for Education Reform Colorado, the policy is based in part from economic nudge theory, which has shown significant increases in voter registration or organ donation when participation becomes the default option.

“This won’t solve everything regarding tracking in schools, but it’s one of those nudges,” Dutta said. “It’s one small way to move the needle for equity.”

Dutta said the idea for Colorado’s bill came from a deep dive into the disaggregated data for AP, IB, dual enrollment, honors and gifted & talented courses as early as third grade. Advocates found a huge disproportionality in enrollment among students of color and other traditionally underserved students—even when their test scores showed they were equally prepared.

Colorado Senate Bill 059 passed unanimously in both the Colorado House and Senate.

For more details from North Carolina and Washington State, see: https://pie-network.org/article/low-hanging-fruit-how-automatic-enrollment-in-advanced-coursework-is-leveling-the-playing-field/