Study Highlights Impact of Early College High Schools

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Topics: Early College High School

With more than 240 nationwide, early college high schools might not seem novel anymore. But when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation started working the Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI) in 2002, they were laying the groundwork for an education revolution. We partnered on the Initiative and opened our first school in 2003.

We’ve seen our initial cohort of nine schools go on to accomplish great things and have built upon that initial work partner with schools throughout the country in creating KnowledgeWorks early college high schools.

Earlier this month the American Institutes for Research (AIR) released their “Early College High School Initiative Impact Study.” The data from AIR reaffirms what we’re finding in our schools: early college high schools work.

The three key findings of the study are:

  • Early college students were significantly more likely to enroll in college than comparison students.
  • Early college students were significantly more likely to earn a college degree than comparison students.
  • Early college impact generally did not differ by subgroup, and when the impact differed, the difference was generally in favor of underrepresented groups.

These findings align with the reasons KnowledgeWorks works in early college high schools. “We are seeing students graduating with their four-year degrees two and three years ahead of their peers or comparison group and ready for the workforce,” said Andrea Mulkey, National Director of Strategic Partnerships for KnowledgeWorks.

The basic tenants of the early college high school model encourage students to enroll in college as well as pursue a four-year degree. In the KnowledgeWorks early college high schools, students can earn up to 60 hours of college credit, or an associate degree, while still in high school. All of this is free to the student.  This reduces students’ time towards a four-year degree, making the costs more manageable. Because our early college high schools are typically housed on college campuses and students are earning college credit in real college courses alongside traditional college students, making the transition from high school to college seems less daunting.

“KnowledgeWorks early college high schools make college affordable and put the dream of college completion within reach of students and families,” said KnowledgeWorks’ Deborah Howard.

It is the third key finding from the AIR study that really resonates with the work we do at KnowledgeWorks. It is our belief that every child can succeed in college and in the workplace with the right tools, preparation and support.

“Early College may be the most promising strategy for first generation and low-income students to earn a college degree,” said KnowledgeWorks’ Harold Brown.

Read the complete report from AIR, “Early College High School Initiative Impact Study,” and learn how early college high schools are making the dream of college a reality.