CELL at UIndy

Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning

What is Early College High School?

The Early College High School model gives students a head start on the rest of their lives. These small schools allow students to earn both a high school diploma and up to two years of credit toward a bachelor’s degree, or an associate degree. While open to all students, the model specifically serves low-income young people, first-generation college students, English language learners, and students of color, all of whom are statistically underrepresented in higher education and for whom society often has low expectations for academic achievement.

In today’s competitive world, a high school diploma only serves as a stepping-stone in a student’s educational journey. To achieve economic prosperity and lifelong success in the 21st century, all students must graduate high school and move on to college. Early College High Schools remove the academic, financial, and psychological barriers that prevent too many students from advancing to and succeeding in college. Students receive enhanced supports to help them excel both academically and personally. Since students earn college credit while in high school, the time it takes to complete a college degree is condensed. Students and families also benefit from reduced or free tuition costs. Ultimately, Early College High Schools turn obstacles into opportunities for student success.

Core Principles

Designed for Success

Every Early College adheres to eight Core Principles that serve as a framework for the planning and implementation of this school model. The model is a flexible one that can be adapted for small cohorts, whole schools, and all types of settings – whether large or small, rural or urban. Early College High Schools offer much more than an array of dual credit courses; Early College High Schools create support systems, provide rigorous coursework, establish a sense of place, and partner with external stakeholders to inspire students to achieve academic success and pursue postsecondary opportunities.The Core Principles ensure that each school is intentional about the design of their program so that it can achieve high quality and sustainability while providing the most benefit for students.

Eight Early College Core Principles

  1. Targeted Student Population: Underserved students such as first-generation, low-income, and students of color.
  2. Curriculum & Plan of Study: From college-preparedness to career-ready.
  3. College-Going Culture: An environment that builds the expectation of post-secondary attainment.
  4. Rigorous Instruction: Challenge and high expectations in every class.
  5. Supports for Student Success: Academic, social, and emotional supports.
  6. Collaboration & Partnerships: Higher education, family, community, and industry partnerships.
  7. Leadership & Staffing: Defined roles and responsibilities.
  8. Data Collection, Analysis, and Use: Continual assessment and improvement of program elements.
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