Dual enrollment: How to increase access for all students

Earning college credit in high school has been touted as a way to expose students to higher education, help them save on tuition and ultimately make access to college more equitable.

But data shows that the students who would benefit the most often don’t have access to dual enrollment classes. What’s getting in the way, and how can we increase access for all students?

Read more about this roundtable.

Click here to read selected questions asked by the audience and responses from our guests. 


Brianna Zatarain

Graduate student at National University and former Bakersfield College dual enrollment student

Brianna Zatarain is a first-generation college student working on a master’s degree at National University. Zatarain started taking college courses during freshman year at Robert F. Kennedy High School in Delano and is a former Bakersfield College dual enrollment student. She ultimately graduated with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies in a total of three years from Cal State Bakersfield. She has worked as a reading intervention assistant and is now a substitute teacher and working toward becoming an elementary school teacher.

Olga Rodriguez

Director | Public Policy Institute of California Higher Education Center and Senior Fellow

Olga Rodriguez is the director of the PPIC Higher Education Center and a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, where she holds the Thomas and Marilyn Sutton Chair in Higher Education Policy.

Her recent work has examined statewide reforms to developmental education, English as a second language, dual enrollment, and assessment and placement systems in California’s community colleges. Before joining PPIC, she was a postdoctoral research associate at the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics/mathematics and Spanish from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in economics and education from Columbia University.

Raquel Torres-Retana

Dean, Rosemead & Northwest Campuses and Educational Partnerships | Pasadena City College

Raquel Torres-Retana is an educator with over 30 years’ experience in a variety of settings. Torres-Retana remains committed to educational equity and social justice. Her passion for this work stems from her own experiences being raised in a working-class community in Los Angeles county. Torres-Retana is a dean at Pasadena City College, leading its community efforts through educational partnerships and through the PCC satellite campuses (Rosemead and Northwest).

PCC has experienced significant growth in dual enrollment due to CCAP partnerships with all the local public school districts. Torres-Retana earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Whittier College, a master’s degree in public administration from CSU Dominguez Hills, and her Ed.D. from USC Rossier School of Education, where she also serves as an adjunct assistant professor.

James Espinoza

Principal | Middle College High School in San Bernardino City Unified

James Espinoza is the principal at Middle College High School in San Bernardino City Unified. He has served on the board of the California Coalition of Early & Middle Colleges since 2013.

Espinoza is passionate advocate of dual enrollment across the state as a key tool for helping all students, including first-generation college-bound, scholars learn how to navigate and graduate from four-year colleges and universities toward their career goals.

Ashley A. Smith

Panel moderator; Reporter | EdSource

Ashley A. Smith covers higher education and other student success reforms for EdSource. She joined the publication in July 2019 after covering community colleges, for-profit schools and nontraditional students for Inside Higher Ed, in Washington, D.C. Her work has appeared in the Fort Myers News-Press, the Marshfield News-Herald, The Flint Journal, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. Ashley grew up in Detroit and is a 2008 graduate of Michigan State University. In 2020, Ashley was selected to join the first class of journalists in the ECMC Foundation Higher Education Media Fellowship at the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, to report on career and technical education.

Anne Vasquez

CEO | EdSource

Anne Vasquez took the helm as EdSource’s executive director in May 2021. Previously, she served as director of content and strategic initiatives at EdSource. In that role, she helped shape editorial strategy, grow partnerships and expand the organization’s footprint throughout California. Prior to joining EdSource, Anne was an executive at Tribune Publishing, where she most recently served as senior vice president of strategic initiatives and chief digital officer. She previously was the managing editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Vasquez began her career at the Miami Herald and the San Jose Mercury News, where she was an education reporter and later an editor.