Assessing the Impact of North Carolina's Early College High Schools on College Preparedness

Full Abstract: Early College High Schools are small, innovative public schools that offer students the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and two years of college credit in four or five years free-of-charge. The model has been replicated more than 230 times in 28 states and the District of Columbia. We study 33 Early Colleges in North Carolina to measure their effect on student progression through the mathematics and science pipelines each of which consist of three college-preparatory courses. The pipeline concept stresses the importance of when a student takes a course, not just if she does. Our analysis of student-level longitudinal data comparing Early College students to carefully matched non-ECHS students within the same district finds positive effects on mathematics course-taking and performance but nil to negative effect in science. Early Colleges are also found to narrow differences in successful mathematics pipeline progression between student subgroups defined by parental education and 8th grade mathematics achievement.

CEPWC Working Paper Series No. 7. January 2013.