BOSTON, MA (March 21, 2011) — It is not easy to create a school that takes young people, often academically behind, and gives them the various types of support they need to meet the challenge of college coursework while they are in high school. But North Carolina’s experience with establishing dozens of innovative Early College Schools demonstrates that it is possible—and on a large scale.
In 2010, the North Carolina New Schools Project, a public-private organization that develops innovative high schools, focused a best-practices workshop on five early colleges using highly effective strategies to prepare all students for postsecondary education. Accelerating College Readiness: Lessons From North Carolina’s Innovator Early Colleges, released today by Jobs for the Future (JFF), incorporates and expands on those strategies and lessons, with specific examples of how these college readiness approaches are implemented in the schools on a daily basis.
“The five schools highlighted in Accelerating College Readiness are shining examples of what early colleges can do to move students who are underrepresented in higher education into a successful college career,” said Joel Vargas, vice president of High School Through College at JFF, which coordinates the Early College High School Initiative. “The strategies and lessons learned from these schools will help school districts nationwide replicate this approach to transforming education.”
In North Carolina and across the nation, early colleges are achieving results. Research from the SERVE Center at UNC-Greensboro has found that the state’s early colleges are closing the achievement gap for students of color. Accelerating College Readiness demonstrates through concrete examples how the five schools embody the design principles developed by the North Carolina New Schools Project: Ready for College; Powerful Teaching and Learning; Personalization; Redefine Professionalism; and Purposeful Design.
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 first graduates of these schools completed early college last spring with numerous college credits and, in many cases, a full Associate’s degree. The other two schools, Vance County Early College and Warren Early College, opened in the 2008-09 school year and offer emerging examples of practices that accelerate the academic progress of all students.
About the Early College High School Initiative
Early college high school is a bold approach, based on the principle that academic rigor, combined with the opportunity to save time and money, is a powerful motivator for students to work hard and meet serious intellectual challenges. Early college high schools blend high school and college in a rigorous yet supportive program, compressing the time it takes to complete a high school diploma and the first two years of college.
About North Carolina New Schools Project
NCNSP was launched in 2003 by the Office of the Governor and the North Carolina Education Cabinet with initial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since then, NCNSP has worked with school districts and educators to develop more than 100 innovative high schools in every region of the state. In supporting the planning and implementation of new schools, NCNSP partners with colleges and universities, state and local government, and supporters in business and philanthropy. With a staff of master teachers and accomplished school administrators, NCNSP provides a full range of services and supports to enhance the knowledge and skills of educators in new schools.
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.