More early college high school students graduate college- and career-ready

New paper looks at policies to support scaling innovative learning model

Topics: Early College High School, Education Policy

With early college high school, we can increase the number of individuals successfully navigating high school, matriculating, and completing a post-secondary program.By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary education. But today, only 43 percent of Americans have a college degree.

As the country experiences sluggish education outcomes, a prevalent job skills gap, and a growing population of traditionally underserved students, Early College High School could be the answer… as long as policy doesn’t stand in the way.

At this week’s EDWorks Experience Conference, KnowledgeWorks released its first Early College High School policy brief, focused on what is necessary in supporting and scaling flexible learning environments for high school students. This new paper, Capitalizing on Potential: Scaling Early College High Schools, focuses on and compares specific policies and funding structures from states that have already scaled Early College High Schools, which offer high quality college experiences to students before high school graduation.

“Early College High School is a whole-school transformation approach that can effectively target students at risk of dropping out of high school,” said author Matt Williams, KnowledgeWorks Vice President Policy and Advocacy. “This model is a fundamentally bold idea that raises expectations for students, allowing them to earn up to 60 hours of college credit before graduating high school. But without the necessary policy supports on a state and federal level, scaling this model to benefit students throughout the country will be nearly impossible.”

Through Early College High School (ECHS) models, which typically focus on traditionally underserved populations, students and their families have the opportunity to save time and money toward a postsecondary credential by offering a jumpstart on a college degree. Through EDWorks model, which has been field tested in 50 school districts across eight states, 79 percent of students complete at least one year of college credit before they graduate high school. In addition, one in three earns an associate’s degree or 60 hours of transferable college credit.

“Scaling approaches like ECHS is essential to our nation’s long-term economic viability,” KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Judy Peppler said. “But more importantly, ECHS offers the opportunity to offer hundreds of thousands of low-income, first-generation students the opportunity to go to college.”

“Capitalizing on Potential: Scaling Early College High Schools” is released just in time for “Early College High School Week,” which is scheduled for March 23-27.

About KnowledgeWorks

KnowledgeWorks is a national nonprofit organization advancing a future of learning that ensures each student graduates ready for what’s next. For 20 years, we’ve been partnering with states, communities and leaders across the country to imagine, build and sustain vibrant learning communities. Through evidence-based practices and a commitment to equitable outcomes, we’re creating the future of learning, together.