The early college high schools were located in five states throughout the country: five in urban areas, three in small towns, and two in mid-sized cities. Eight of the 10 early colleges were located on college campuses. Seven had a 2-year public college partner, two had a 4-year public college partner, and one had both.
The sample consisted of general education high school students. About half (52%) of the early college group was female versus 55% of the comparison group. Minority students comprised 52% and 54% of the intervention and comparison groups, respectively. In addition, 31% of the intervention group was first-generation college students, versus 34% of the comparison group. Low-income students comprised 47% of the intervention group and 42% of the comparison group.
Six early colleges were district-run schools, and the remaining four were charter schools. Most of the schools also had a subject matter focus in addition to providing opportunities to earn college credit: five had a STEM focus, and two had a teacher preparation focus. The early colleges offered a wide array of supports, with all ten early colleges providing tutoring, college preparatory information, and college access assistance that highlighted scholarships and other financial aid information. In addition, some of the early colleges offered advisories; summer, evening, and weekend classes; extended school days; and/or block scheduling. In terms of the college coursework, seven early colleges had course sequences that allowed students to earn at least 2 years of college credit, two early colleges allowed students to earn up to 1 year of college credit, and one early college allowed students to earn at least some college credit.
The comparison students in the study attended 272 different high schools. The comparison schools were generally much larger than the early college high schools. At the comparison schools, Advanced Placement (AP) courses were more prevalent than dual enrollment as a strategy for students to earn college credit. The majority of the students who did not attend early colleges enrolled in larger high schools with larger minority and low-income student populations. Those schools provided fewer academic supports (e.g., tutoring) and a less direct focus on college readiness for all students.
Support for implementation
All but one of the early colleges had college instructors, rather than qualified high school instructors, teaching college courses. No other support for implementation was reported.