University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Why We Think Early College High Schools Are Worth a Look

In The View from the OEP on May 7, 2014 at 5:52 pm


We’re excited about the prospects of the Early College High School Initiative, and we think you will be too!  We also look forward to seeing you at our upcoming OEP Conference: Diplomas, Certificates and Degrees: Helping Arkansas Students Find Their Ideal Careers. Dr. Mickens has a dynamic, interactive workshop planned regarding early college high school-you will not want to miss it!  To learn more about the model, check out our new policy brief, hot off  the presses and just in time for our May 15 OEP Annual Conference in Little Rock, AR!

Educational fads and models come and go and so it is natural to ask the question: Why should I care about this one? Is it just this year’s gimmick, or does it have staying power? Is this something that has research-based results of helping students or are the proceeds just lining someone’s pocket and wasting my time at faculty meetings?


early collegeIn this case, we believe that early college high schools are one of these models that is worth learning more about-so much so,  in fact, that this is a topic of one of our keynote addresses at the 2014 OEP Conference in May, and we have published a policy brief about it. But before we get into that, let’s look at the model. Early college high schools are small schools ( 100 students per grade) designed to offer a college-prep track for all students and offer up to sixty college credits. Some graduates even walk away from high school with both a diploma and an Associate’s degree. The rationale behind this model is that American jobs are increasingly requiring some sort of post-secondary credentials and offering these opportunities in high school gives students a “jump start” on preparing for their futures.

In addition, a 2013 random assignment study by American Institutes for Research (AIR) and SRI International reported promising results for the model, including a greater likelihood of enrolling in college by the end of high school, and one in five early college high school students are graduating with an Associate’s degree or higher. In fact, this study was given the “geeky researcher’s seal of approval” by the What Works Clearinghouse, so we have good reason to trust the results!


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