Developed in partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), North Carolina New Schools, the NC Community College System and the University of North Carolina, the early college high school initiative launched in 2004 as a way to encourage more students to complete high school and to gain the advanced skills increasingly demanded in the 21st century workplace. Early college high schools support students through what effectively become their first two years of college -- typically the most vulnerable period for students from low-income families. Because students earn two years of college credit without paying tuition, early colleges also lift the financial barrier students and families often face when considering college.
The approach is working. Graduation rates are high and dropout rates low. Students demonstrate strong success on state assessments and in their college classes. Early findings of an in-depth study show that virtually all students are on track for college by 9th grade and that achievement gaps (between white and minority students, advantaged and disadvantaged) are disappearing in critical subjects such as Algebra I.
Our state is now a national leader in developing early colleges. Since 2005, the number of early college high schools in North Carolina has increased more than fivefold, from 13 to 76. Nationally, about 200 early college high schools are open in 24 states. As NC New Schools helps to develop regional schools and district-wide efforts, these early college strategies are also being extended into conventional schools.
Schools are expanding these strategies across the state. Setting high expectations and supporting all students to reach them needs to be the direction for all schools. The successful approaches that the state’s early college high schools have helped pioneer are now being adopted by traditional high schools in a number of rural, low-income parts of the state. The unique $16.5 million effort, supported by a $15 million grant under the federal Investing in Innovation initiative and private funding, is aimed at exposing all high school students to a college-ready culture and creating new opportunities for all students to graduate from high school with some college credit.
- Download our 16-page overview about early colleges, including profiles of individual schools partnering with NC New Schools.
- An ongoing experimental study by the SERVE Center at UNC-Greensboro finds persuasive evidence on the effectiveness of NC New Schools partner schools – specifically early college high schools. The study, now in its eighth year, is comparing the progress of more than 000 students who enrolled in early college to a control group of about the same number of students who enrolled elsewhere.
For more about a model early college partnering with NC New Schools, read a case study about Caldwell Early College High School and watch Caldwell graduate Amelia Hawkins on our YouTube channel.
- Learn more about the national Early College High School Initiative.
The following institutions of higher education partner with early college high schools:
Appalchian State University
Asheville-Buncombe Tech Community College
Beaufort County Community College
Blue Ridge Community College
Brunswick Community College
Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute
Cape Fear Community College
Catawba Valley Community College
Central Carolina Community College
Cleveland Community College
College of the Albermarle
Craven Community College
Davidson County Community College
Edgecombe Community College
Fayetteville State University
Forsyth Technical Community College
Guilford Technical Community College
Halifax Community College
Haywood Community College
Isothermal Community College
James Sprunt Community College
Johnston Community College
Lenoir Community College
Martin Community College
Mayland Community College
McDowell Technical Community College
Mitchell Community College
Nash Community College
NC A&T State University
NC Central University
NC State University
Pitt Community College
Randolph Community College
Richmond Community College
Roanoke-Chowan Community College
Robeson Community College
Rockingham Community College
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
Sampson Community College
Sandhills Community College
South Piedmont Community College
Southeastern Community College
Southwestern Community College
Stanly Community College
Surry Community College
Tri-County Community College
University of North Carolina at Greensboro iSchool
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Vance Granville Community College
Wake Technical Community College
Wayne Community College
Wilkes Community College
Wilson Community College