A Leg Up on College

A Leg Up on College

Research from Wheelhouse and PACE


Research has indicated 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 in recent years to increase high school students’ access to college courses.

Because California lacks an integrated state data system to connect information from K-12 to higher education, researchers have been hampered in their efforts to understand to what extent the state’s high school students participate in dual enrollment.

A new report by researchers Elizabeth Friedmann, Michal Kurlaender, Alice Li and Russell Rumberger breaks new ground by matching high school and community college datasets to provide a clearer picture of college course-taking among California public high school students statewide.

A Leg Up on College: The Scale and Distribution of Community College Participation Among California High School Students reveals that:

College course taking by high school students in California is more prevalent than previously understood: 12.6% of students took a course at a community college at some point during high school.

Race and socioeconomic disparities in dual enrollment participation are significant.

Opportunity is not equal: 82% of California high schools in our statewide sample have no students who are dually enrolled.

Given the demonstrated benefits of dual enrollment, the equity concerns are significant.

Download the report or the infographic.



A Leg Up on College On February 11, 2020, EdSource, PACE and Wheelhouse hosted a live, online discussion with a panel of experts—including Prof. Michal Kurlaender, co-author of the research brief—to explore dual enrollment and this new research. View the webinar here.

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