Early College Design Services

Early College Design Services

Helping Districts Reinvent High Schools for Postsecondary Success

Implementing and managing school redesigns that combine high school and college to enable struggling students to graduate with college credit and the tools for postsecondary success.

Caesar Mickens Jr.
617.728.4446 x225

Early College Designs Services work to implement transformative school designs that enable more students, particularly low-income and minority students, to earn a high school diploma, the skills needed to navigate college, and significant college credit—tuition free. Early college students are outperforming their peers nationwide:

  • 90% of early college students graduate high school vs. the national rate of 78%.
  • 94% of early college graduates earn some college credit for free.
  • 71% of graduates enroll in college immediately after high school vs. the national rate of 68%.

Every young person needs a postsecondary credential to thrive in today’s world. Yet, as a nation, we fail to provide too many young people with the education they need to succeed. Millions of young people graduate from high school unprepared for college and careers in today’s global economy.

  • 22% of high school students are not graduating from high school.
  • One-third of students who enter postsecondary education require remedial education before they can earn college credit.
  • Less than half of all college students graduate within six years.

These problems are particularly acute for low-income youth, first-generation college goers, English language learners, students of color, and other underserved populations.

With evidence pointing to acceleration and rigor—even for struggling students—to improve achievement and graduation rates, we must face lack of funding, persistent barriers to school turnaround, and other obstacles in the interest of the futures of all students. Solutions are especially needed in light of the national movement to implement the Common Core State Standards, which call for all high school graduates to be college and career ready. 

Early College Design Services seek to assist school districts working to improve graduation rates and college and career readiness for students, especially those currently underserved or struggling, by:

  • Implementing innovative and evidence-based educational models to dramatically improve graduation rates
  • Fostering a school-wide college-going culture that drives high expectations for all teachers, students, and families
  • Generating data on teaching and learning, and using the results to improve student achievement

  • Providing professional development that builds staff capacity to promote higher-order thinking skills and support rigorous, college-level work by students
  • Creating effective, rigorous career and technical education curricula aligned with high-quality jobs in the region
  • Creating partnerships with community colleges and other local higher education institutions to offer students opportunities to gain college credit and confidence in their ability to do college-level work and succeed in postsecondary education. 

See more about our services that help implement these transformative school strategies.

Districts working with Early College Design Services have:

  • Improved high school graduation and college-going rates
  • Increased students’ preparation for college and careers
  • Increased curricular coherence within subjects and across grades and schools
  • Decreased student behavior issues in high-needs schools
  • Expanded partners and resources

Current Clients

  • Camelot Schools
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Dayton Public Schools
  • Denver Public Schools

Early College Design Services are grounded in Jobs for the Future's work leading the Early College High School Initiative since 2002. Student outcomes include:
  • 80,000 students served at 280 early college schools.
  • 90% of early college students graduate, compared with 78% nationally.
  • 94% of graduates earn some college credit while in high school.
  • 71% of early college graduates immediately enroll in college, compared with 68% nationally, and 54% of low-income students nationally.
  • 30% of early college graduates earn an Associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate along with their high school diploma.
  • Early college graduates earn an average 38 college credits for free.
  • Students studying

    Where to Now? Thinking Aloud About the Next Generation of Policy Issues for Dual Enrollment

    For well over a decade, state and federal policymakers have promoted dual enrollment through strategies such as creating or expanding funding streams for dual enrollment and early college schools, as well as mandating that local education agencies make available a defined amount of dual enrollment (and/or AP and IB) options. But efforts to expand dual enrollment much more will only get so far without attention to some key issues in the years ahead. None lend themselves to clear, one-shot policy solutions, yet they nonetheless loom large and relate to larger challenges in our K-12 and postsecondary systems. Read our Q & A about dual enrollment policy issues.

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  • Addressing the 61st Hour Challenge report

    Addressing the 61st Hour Challenge: Collaborating in El Paso to Create Seamless Pathways from High School to College

    Jobs for the Future and the Greater Texas Foundation's new report documents an early college program in El Paso, Texas, that has enabled over a thousand students to earn a bachelor’s degree. In efforts to resolve a credit transfer issue referred to as the 61st Hour challenge, the high school and higher education institutions in the El Paso region have come together to develop an almost truly seamless system from 9th grade through the bachelor’s degree.

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  • Joel on PBS News Hour

    PBS NewsHour: Does Early College for High School Students Pave a Path to Graduation?

    Watch Dr. Daniel King, JFF board member & Superintendent of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, and Joel Vargas, Vice President of School and Learning Designs at JFF, discuss early college on PBS NewsHour.

    Learn More