Study Finds Black Students Are Underrepresented in Dual Enrollment Programs

Dual enrollment is an opportunity that allows high school students to take college courses for credit and has the potential to be a powerful lever for the success of high school and postsecondary students. Depending on the program, dual enrollment courses can be offered at high schools, college campuses, or online.

Dual enrollment courses allow students to make progress towards their college graduation requirements: the courses often provide transfer-level college credits, which in turn decreases a student’s time to degree completion and saves on tuition costs. Dual enrollment also improves high school completion rates, increases college enrollment rates, and ultimately boosts college degree attainment.

A new report from The Education Trust-West finds that dual enrollment programs in California are not serving students from underrepresented groups at an equitable level. Researchers examined community college districts (CCD) based on their representation of Latinx, Black, and Native American students in dual enrollment courses relative to the population of high school students in those groups within each district’s boundaries.

They found that more than three in four of California’s 72 community college districts received at least one “Low Representation” rating because too few of the Black, Latinx, or Native American students in their region are represented in dual enrollment courses. Some 57 percent of all community college districts in the state had a low representation of Black students in dual enrollment programs. This was higher than the rate for Latinx (40 percent) or Native American students (53 percent). 

The authors state that “this inequitable participation in dual enrollment is not just a challenge for community colleges to solve, this is also an opportunity for K-12 local education leaders to work to provide their students with more opportunities to graduate high school prepared to thrive in higher education.”

The full report, Jumpstart: Setting Goals to Drive Equitable Dual Enrollment Participation in California’s Community Colleges, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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