A Leg Up on College

Dual Enrollment in California

A Growing and Promising Practice Statewide


Research tells us that high school students who take college courses while they are still in high school benefit from the experience in both systems. To capitalize on the benefits of this dual enrollment, California and other states have moved to increase high school students’ access to college courses.

A Strong Start for College and Career Researchers from the California Education Lab (UC Davis) have matched high school and community college datasets to provide a clearer picture of college course-taking among California public high school students statewide.

A Strong Start for College (Wheelhouse, CA EdLab, PACE) shows that dual enrollment participation remains unequally distributed across racial and socioeconomic subgroups and geography. It also reveals new evidence about the potential of early access in 9th grade to close equity gaps in participation. Additional findings indicate that: 

  • Participation in 9th-grade dual enrollment, largely through formalized partnerships between high schools and community colleges, is more equitable by race and socioeconomic status.
  • Opportunities for dual enrollment vary widely by county, community college district, and local education agency (LEA). 
  • Dually enrolled high school students are taking courses in a wide variety of subject areas.
  • Robust partnerships and intentional placement of students has strong potential to increase equitable access to higher education.

Download the infographic: A Strong Start for College and Career

Read coverage of this research in Community College Daily.

Download our prior research brief, A Foot in the Door. For dual enrollment participation by Race/Ethnicity, download the Appendix. Read coverage of this research by EdSource and Community College Daily.​​​

Download earlier research: A Rising Tide infographic.

For local/regional dual enrollment data, download the Appendix of County Level Stats.

Download A Leg Up on Collegeour original report on dual enrollment.

See the Presentations: Researchers and college leaders presented A Leg Up On College: Dual Enrollment Growth Across California’s Community Colleges at the Community College League of California annual conference In November 2020. 


In October 2021, College Futures Foundation hosted a live webinar featuring Wheelhouse and PPIC researchers, Fresno-based educators and dual enrollment advocates. View the webinar here.

Dual Enrollment in CaliforniaIn February 2020, EdSource, PACE and Wheelhouse hosted a live webinar with a panel of experts to explore dual enrollment. View the webinar here.

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