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Unconventional Wisdom: A Profile of the Graduates of Early College High School

Michael Webb and Lia Mayka

For many young people, early college high schools are opening the door to higher education and better-paying careers. The 230 early college schools serve more than 50,000 students in 28 states, targeting groups that are underrepresented in higher education. These students and the schools they attend are refuting the conventional wisdom that such young people cannot complete high school on time and be prepared for success in college.

This report examines characteristics of the 2007, 2008, and 2009 early college graduating classes. It focuses on early college schools and programs that have been open for four or more years, including some schools that are “conversions” (i.e., they were open before becoming early colleges and underwent restructuring to implement an early college design). Students have had the opportunity to enroll in these early college schools for at least four years, from ninth through twelfth grade. The students in each graduating year are referred to as four-year graduating cohorts.

This is the third 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.