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4 Recommended Practices for Early College Expansion

Early college gradutes

Early college high schools are going above and beyond in creating life-changing opportunities for our nation’s youth. Over a decade of compelling, longitudinal outcomes data and student success stories confirm that early college schools propel low-income youth, students of color, and first-generation college goers to graduate high school and attain postsecondary degrees. With the sixth annual Early College High School Week coming to a close, this year's Week has shifted the spotlight from what Early College Designs can do to how we can advance the movement by bringing this potent framework to scale.

School districts across the country have been speaking up throughout the Week with their plans for early college expansion. In Ohio, JFF is working with district leaders and postsecondary partners to redesign all of Dayton Public Schools' high schools based on the successfully redesigned Dunbar Early College High School, which opened its doors this past fall. Similarly in Michigan, Montcalm Community College is undertaking the goal of eventually including all seven of their public school districts into its early college program. The Texas Education Agency announced that a whopping total of 44 new early college schools will open during the upcoming school year. Georgia State University Early College also released a new video featuring its students.

With the early college movement gaining fast momentum, we’ve been hard at work amplifying its expansion to a national scale. The Week kicked off with a webinar featuring JFF’s latest report, Early College Expansion: Propelling Students to Postsecondary Success, at a School Near You, which delineates best practices for bringing Early College Designs to your community. Highlighted expansion recommendations from the report and webinar include:

  1. Integrating postsecondary approaches tailored to each early college school to create “college for all” culture.
  2. Strengthening partnerships with postsecondary institutions and state agencies by collaboratively tackling institutional barriers early college students may face.
  3. Utilizing creative budget repurposing for long-term sustainability of Early College Designs—a robust pattern across existing early college schools.
  4. Testing existing programs and gathering data longitudinally to determine which programs to model after and bring to scale.

Early College High School Week has drawn voices from students, teachers, administrators, and partners from across the country. While Early College Designs have proven to be successful, the diversity in experiences shared throughout the Week exemplifies the model’s flexible and adaptable nature, further encouraging the idea that early college can be expanded to more districts. JFF extends a warm thank you to all the early college schools that contributed to another fantastic Week, and we invite you to bring these successes to your school by joining the movement.

Photograph copyright 2008 David Binder, Alameda Science and Technology Institute Early Colleg High School