Students from Oakland's Coliseum College Prep Academy learn ballet fundamentals in Modern Dance — a dual enrollment class at the high school campus taught by Laney College professor Carolyn Himes. (Photo by Andrew Reed/EdSource)

At least 1 in 8 California high school seniors take community college courses while still in high school, an increasingly popular strategy that gives students a head start on their college careers, and has been shown to boost both high school and college graduation rates.

A new study from the Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research at the UC Davis School of Education provides the most specific figures yet about how many students in California participate in so-called “dual enrollment” programs.

It found that 12.6 percent of high school seniors in 2016-17 enrolled in these programs at some point in their four years in high school. Researchers said they expect today’s rates to be even higher.

At the same time, despite the relatively high number of students taking college courses, the study also showed that participation in these programsis uneven statewide. Some districts like Oakland Unified and Compton Unified have robust dual enrollment programs. But the study showed that students come from a relatively small proportion of the state’s high schools. In four out of five of the state’s high schools, no students were participating in dual enrollment high schools in 2016-17, the last year data was available.

Story originally published by EdSource.

Louis Freedberg