Early College students’ continued success

Source: American Institutes for Research, "Early College, Continued Success: Longer-Term Impact of Early College High Schools," September 2019.

Students participating in Early College High Schools (ECHS) are significantly more likely to earn a postsecondary degree within six years of graduating high school than students of similar backgrounds who did not partake in the programs, according to a new study.

In fact, students in ECHS — which allow students to simultaneously earn their high school diploma and up to two years of college credit — are nearly three times as likely to earn an associate degree or certificate than non-ECHS peers, according to the American Institutes for Research (AIR) study.

Within six years of their expected high school graduation, about 84 percent of ECHS students had enrolled in postsecondary education, compared to 77 percent of control-group students, AIR said. Two-thirds had enrolled in two-year colleges, compared to 47 percent of students in the control group.

Enrollment in four-year programs within six years after high school graduation didn’t significantly differ between the two groups (58 percent for ECHS students and 57 percent for the control group).

Higher credential rates, too

ECHS students also appear to complete a postsecondary credential at higher rates than non-ECHS students in the study. Within six years of high school graduation:

  • More than 45 percent of ECHS students earned a postsecondary degree, compared to about 34 percent of control students
  • About 29 percent of ECHS students earned an associate degree or certificate, compared to 11 percent of control students
  • about 30 percent of ECHS students earned a bachelor’s degree, compared to 25 percent of control students

AIR noted that ECHS students were more likely to enroll and graduate from two-year colleges partly because most of the programs in the study partnered with two-year colleges. However, accumulation of college credits during high school explained most of the ECHS impact on baccalaureate completions, even though the credits were earned at two-year colleges for most students, it added.

“This finding speaks to the important role that 2-year colleges can play in the academic trajectories of high school students, when the integration of college coursework into the high school curriculum is intentional and coheres to specific degree-attainment pathways,” the study said.

The Institute for Education Sciences, an arm of the U.S. Education Department, funded the study.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.