In an attempt to somewhat reverse the continuing trend of digressing academic achievement for some under-served student segments in high school education, there has emerged a rather new concept called the Early College High School Model (ECHSM). At its core, this concept combines both high school curriculum and early college curriculum.
High School Education and Middle College Concept
However, this concept in high school education is actually a build on the foundation of the 30-year old 1972 Middle College philosophical school of thought. Basically, the Middle College program was a “hybrid” high school on a college campus. Originally covering grades 9-12, it employed high school education instructors and sustained itself on set-aside funds from the general operating budget of the board of education. However, it did manage to fulfill the required high school curriculum standards in an impressive manner and raise its overall grade achievements.
In the year 2000, the results were so impressive in New York City that more funds to charter a new high school curriculum program were requested from the Ford Foundation.
New ECHSM Program
The new ECHSM pilot program that was developed basically incorporated features of the previous Middle College program. However, it did focus primarily on achieving a different goal of higher collaboration in the fields of college education and high school education. Moreover, there was more of an emphasis on a reprogrammed and accelerated focus on academic excellence.
In essence, the entire structure of the ECHSM initiative is made up of the following. It is geared towards students who reside in primarily under-served areas and attend under achieving schools. Moreover, there must be established a relationship, of sorts, between a college administration and a high school education administration.
Likewise, a ECHSM it must provide a series of courses beginning from the tenth grade onward. Concurrently, it must also provide a more accelerated course of study from ninth grade on towards an Associate degree that is to be obtained in five or less years.
Additionally, a full complement of college facilities and resources such as gym, cafeteria, auditoriums and library must be made available to all early college high school students. Moreover, the college administration needs to be actively involved in providing an environment of collaboration in various areas. These areas include: interchanges of faculty members and divisions of finance, admissions, counseling and curriculum scheduling. All of these components must be available and in place for any program to be classified and qualified as ECHSM; moreover, these prerequisites are non-negotiable.
The benefits of an early college high school curriculum model are many. However, the reality is that primary benefits are financial in nature, and not academic as many would like to believe.
Theoretically, a specially devised five-year high school curriculum substantially helps in reducing later college costs. Another important factor is that there is an elimination of a year off high school education costs as a trade-off for one year administration expenses from a college. As a result, students are more motivated to move through academia more quickly; moreover, this facilitates them becoming a contributing wage earner member of the workforce at an earlier time.
Today, the program’s participating student population stands at 100,000 with more school districts growing daily. However, this is not enough. The ECHSM initiative that began in 2002, is still unbelievably currently present in 250 early college high schools throughout 24 states and the District of Columbia.
Typically, students are broken down in demographics as follows: 67 percent are from minority groups, 59 percent partake of the free/reduced-price lunch programs and 10 percent barely maintain English proficiency levels.
With a national high school dropout rate of 70 percent annually, something drastic and effective must be sustained in order to impressively improve the academic achievements of all schools. However, concerning students and high school curriculum in under-served districts; quality high school education is non-negotiable for any group.
College First: Right From the Start (pdf)
Rigorous Schools Put College Dreams Into Practice
The Early College High School Initiative (pdf)