Improving Access to Postsecondary Education Through Early College High Schools

Early college high schools enable high school students to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school. These programs provide visionary new pathways to postsecondary education, particularly for underrepresented populations.

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Executive Summary

  • More college graduates are needed in the U.S. to keep pace with developing countries and to meet the demands of an ever-changing work force. Some experts predict the U.S. will need more than 15 million more college graduates by 2025 to equal the degree attainment in top-performing countries.
  • While the rates of degree attainment among minorities have increased, minorities and low-income young people continue to be less likely than their white and more affluent counterparts to enroll in college.
  • One initiative that has gained momentum during the past decade is the early college high school movement. Some 200 early college high schools exist in 24 states. These high schools are aligned with postsecondary institutions and allow students from underserved populations to take tuition-free college courses while also taking high school courses. The college courses generally are transferrable to postsecondary institutions,
  • Georgia, North Carolina and Texas have become leaders in the early college high school movement. These states use a combination of innovative public policy initiatives and public-private partnerships to create systems that encourage early college high schools and provide improved opportunities for students who otherwise might not attend college to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and college credits.

Inside the Report

  • What are early college high schools?
  • The case for improved higher education access
  • Core principles of early college high schools
  • Differences between early college high schools & dual credit programs
  • The cost of early college high school
  • Other policy barriers
  • A Case Study: The Dayton Early College Academy
  • State policies and initiatives: Texas, North Carolina, Georgia
  • Resources