- New data on the rate at which California high school students take dual enrollment classes suggests they all do not have the same level of access to the early college experience, according to a new report from Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research.
- About 12.6% of California's high school seniors in 2016-17 took dual enrollment classes at some point during high school, but Latinx, African-American and socioeconomically disadvantaged students were less likely to do so.
- The report backs previous research that finds students lack equal access to dual enrollment opportunities.
The researchers note that high school students who take college courses are more likely to earn a bachelor's degree and have a higher first-year GPA than students who don't participate in dual enrollment.
It also helps community colleges — which have seen nearly a decade of enrollment declines — to fill their seats and create stronger relationships with their feeder high schools.
Dual enrollment has grown rapidly in the past several years. One study found that 88% of high school students who took a community college course in the fall of 2010 later enrolled in college, and most of that group went on to earn a credential or transfer to a four-year college within six years.
Another study, from the U.S. Department of Education, found that 34% of students who were ninth-graders in 2009 took courses for college credit while in high school. However, only 27% of black students and 30% of Hispanic students took such courses, compared to 38% of white and Asian students.
Those disparities were reflected in California. A higher share of Asian (19%) and white (14%) high school seniors took dual enrollment courses than Latinx (11%) and African-American (9%) seniors. The researchers note that this trend is particularly troubling for Latinx students, who account for half of the state's high school seniors.
"[R]acial and socioeconomic disparities in dual enrollment bear close attention and action, especially in a state where educators and policymakers are increasingly focused on college readiness and success for African-American and Latinx students who have underrepresented in postsecondary education," they wrote.
Some community colleges are fighting back against these trends. For example, South Texas College, a Hispanic-serving institution, offers dual enrollment academies that allow students to earn an associate degree while still in high school. The college won an award last year for its efforts to create a college-going culture among Hispanic students in the area.
Likewise, Palo Alto College, in San Antonio, won the Aspen Institute's Rising Star award last year for educating roughly 3,000 students annually through early college high school and dual enrollment courses.