BOSTON, MA (October 20, 2010) — All students should be prepared to begin college-level work as soon as they are ready—and that can be before they graduate high school, according to a new guide by Jobs for the Future.
A Policymaker’s Guide to Early College Designs helps state and local policymakers make informed decisions as they plan for and implement programs making college-level work more widely available to high school students. The Guide outlines what it would take to systematize and scale up early college course taking, extending the benefits to secondary schools and colleges across the country.
The overall goal, as stated by the guide, is that “every state adopts early college designs to ensure that every student can graduate from high school prepared to earn a postsecondary credential or degree.”
“Students who are already on the track to college are currently the those most likely to benefit from Advanced Placement and other ‘college-in-high-school’ opportunities,” said Nancy Hoffman, a vice president at JFF and the guide’s coauthor. “The goal of early college designs is to extend the same opportunities to low-income high school students who, without such academic experiences, might not be prepared to enter and persist through college.”
“A free head start on college is huge motivation for these young people to complete a college degree,” said Joel Vargas, also a JFF vice president and guide coauthor. “Earning college credit in high school saves time and money, offering strong incentives to succeed for those whose families struggle to pay bills and are eager to start jobs.”
The guide covers all recommended policies for starting and sustaining early college designs. Topics include why and how to build high school–college partnerships, secure and spend startup funding, ensure quality, and measure success.
Many of the policies in this guide are derived from the successes of the Early College High School Initiative, which enables 54,000 students in over 200 schools nationwide to earn up to two years of college credit in high school—tuition free. One premise of the guide is that states should aim to spread the successful practices of these schools to students in any kind of high school.
Ninety-two percent of ECHS students graduate high school, compared to 69 percent of all American high school students. And most ECHS students are from minority and low-income families.
“Early college designs work to engage and accelerate all types of learners,” said Vargas. “We believe that offering college credit in high school can eventually be the norm in every U.S. secondary school—especially for youth currently underrepresented in higher education. And we hope this guide helps bring about that reality.”
About Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future works with our partners to design and drive adoption of education and career pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for those struggling to succeed in today’s economy.