Stretching Minds and Resources: 20 Years of Post Secondary Enrollment Options in Minnesota

Liam Julian

Joe Nathan, Laura Accomando, and Debra Hare Fitzpatrick
Center for School Change
December 2005

Twenty years ago, Minnesota enacted the nation's first initiative to allow high school juniors and seniors to use state funds to take university courses and earn university credits. The Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program gives high-achieving high school students a taste of college, and it provides them with the more-advanced instruction many of them crave. But does the program get students ahead? Are PSEO participants more likely, for example, to matriculate to college and graduate with a degree? Are Minnesota's citizens and PSEO participants satisfied with the program? The Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota conducted a statewide poll of 625 registered Minnesota voters, surveyed PSEO participants, interviewed state higher education officials, and worked closely with officials at Minnesota's Department of Education. It found that PSEO enjoys strong support, both from participants (86 percent would participate in PSEO again) and from Minnesota residents (82 percent support PSEO). PSEO participants also reported the program had a positive impact on their educational development (94 percent). The report does note that PSEO participants are "disproportionately female and affluent," and that the program could do a better job recruiting interested males and minority students. Overall, the authors portray PSEO as a success, but their examination is far from exhaustive, relying mostly on surveys and anecdotal evidence, rendering its conclusions unconvincing. Nonetheless, it gives a good summary of the program and provides some commonsense suggestions for improving it. You can check it out, here.

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