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Accelerating College Readiness: Lessons from North Carolina's Innovator Early Colleges

Cecilia Le and Jill Frankfort

Half of all states have at least one early college, but North Carolina leads the nation with 71 early colleges, each located on the campus of a partnering higher education institution. With the support of the North Carolina New Schools Project, a public-private organization that develops innovative high schools, North Carolina now has the most early colleges of any state and substantial data about what works.

This brief explores the lessons and best practices from five of North Carolina's early colleges based on their highly effective strategies to prepare all students for postsecondary education.

Three of the Innovators (Anson County Early College, Buncombe County Early College, and Davidson County Early College) are among the state’s first early colleges and offer five years of lessons in preparing high school students for college rigor. The other two Innovator schools, Vance County Early College and Warren Early College, opened in the 2008 school year and offer emerging examples of practices that accelerate the academic progress of all students.

This is the first of several publications JFF released during its 3rd annual National Early College High School Week, celebrating the successes of our 230 schools across 28 states. Early college high schools serve more than 50,000 students a year, most of them from minority and low-income families.