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Early College High School Model

Blueprints Program Rating: Model Plus

A high school model designed to increase students’ access to a postsecondary credential, particularly for underrepresented students. The goal is to minimize challenges in the transition to postsecondary education for students for whom access has historically been problematic.

Program Outcomes

  • Academic Performance
  • Post Secondary Education

Program Type

  • Academic Services
  • School - Environmental Strategies
  • School - Individual Strategies

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)

Age

  • Late Adolescence (15-18) - High School

Gender

  • Male and Female

Race/Ethnicity

  • All Race/Ethnicity

Endorsements

  • Blueprints: Model Plus

Program Information Contact

Julie Edmunds, Ph.D., Evaluator
Program Director for Secondary School Reform, SERVE Center
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Email: jedmunds@serve.org
Phone: (336) 315-7415

Clarisse Haxton, Ph.D., Evaluator
Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) Department
Palo Alto Unified School District
Email: chaxton@pausd.org
Phone: (650) 833-4229 ext. 6914

Brief Description of the Program

An Early College High School (EC) is a high school model that offers enrolled students an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree or up to 2 years of college credits toward a bachelor’s degree during high school at no or low cost to the students. Often referred to as “small schools that blur the line between high school and college” (Edmunds et al., 2017, p. 297), the model is designed to enable students to take college courses while still receiving support from high school staff. Many early college models target students who are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education, including minority students, students from low-income families, and students who are in the first generation of their families to go to college.

See: Full Description

Outcomes

Study 1
Haxton et al. (2016) found that, as compared to the control group, treatment students were more likely to:

  • Enroll in college and attain a college degree while in high school
  • Attain a postsecondary degree 2 years after high school graduation in a typical time frame

As for risk and protective factors, Haxton et al. (2016) found that, as compared to the control group, treatment students:

  • Were more likely to earn college credits in high school
  • Report stronger college-going high school cultures and support from instructors while in high school
  • Were more likely to have access to general college information while in high school (p = .06)

Study 2
Edmunds et al. (2017) found that, as compared to the control group, treatment students were more likely to have:

  • Enrolled in postsecondary education (2 years after high school graduation in a typical time frame)
  • Attained a postsecondary degree (2 years after high school graduation in a typical time frame)

In terms of risk & protective factors, compared to the control group, students in the treatment group:

  • Took more core college preparatory courses and succeeded in them at the end of 9th grade (Edmunds et al., 2012)
  • Had better school attendance and fewer suspensions at the end of 9th grade (Edmunds et al., 2012)
  • Earned more college credits by the end of 12th grade (Edmunds et al., 2017)

Subgroup Details

The treatment sample in Haxton et al. (2016) was majority (53%) minority and nearly half of the students (47%) were from low-income families. Findings showed that minority students in the treatment group were more likely to earn a postsecondary degree (of any type) than minority students in the control group. In addition, low-income students who attended an Early College High School were more likely to earn “any” postsecondary degree than low-income students in the control group. For Edmunds et al. (2017), the overall sample was around 40% minority, roughly 40% were first-generation college going, and half were low-income. Findings showed that under-represented minority students in the treatment earned more college credits while in high school, and were more likely to enroll in college and receive a postsecondary credential compared to minority students in the control group. These findings were consistent across other sub-groups, including low-income and first-generation students.

Risk and Protective Factors

Protective Factors
  • School: Opportunities for prosocial involvement in education

Brief Evaluation Methodology

Haxton et al. (2016) and Edmunds et al. (2012, 2017) each conducted a multisite randomized controlled trial (using lottery assignments) to evaluate the effects of the Early College High School model on students’ high school graduation and postsecondary access and completion rates. Haxton et al. (2016) recruited from a national sample of 17 lotteries across 10 schools and 3 cohorts of students graduating from high school in 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08, which resulted in a sample size of 2,458 students. Edmunds et al. (2012, 2017) included students who applied to one of 12 early college schools in North Carolina, and included 18 cohorts of students who enrolled in ninth grade in the 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years (n=1,689). Outcomes in Edmunds et al. (2012) included course taking patterns and success, attendance, suspension, and college aspirations at the end of 9th grade. Meanwhile, primary outcomes for Haxton et al. (2016) and Edmunds et al. (2017) included high school graduation rates, as well as college enrollment and completion rates up to 6 years after students completed 9th grade (or 2 years after high school graduation in a typical time frame).