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Evaluation of the Early College High School Initiative
SRI is evaluating the effectiveness of high schools that offer students the opportunity to simultaneously pursue a high school diploma and earn up to two years of college credits.
As part of its effort to develop a portfolio of effective high schools, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the Early College High School (ECS) Initiative. ECSs are publicly funded schools that offer a high school education and two years of college credit in a compressed time. The goal is to enroll students who are typically underserved and underrepresented in postsecondary education.
Since 2002, more than 230 ECSs have opened in 28 states and the District of Columbia, serving nearly 50,000 students annually. SRI, in conjunction with the American Institutes for Research, is conducting a multiyear evaluation of the initiative.
ECSs are created through a partnership between an institution of higher education and a school district or other entity. Thirteen intermediary organizations received grants to foster the development of these local partnerships and assist in developing the schools. Jobs for the Future is coordinating the initiative overall, overseeing and providing technical assistance to the intermediary organizations.
The national evaluation began with a design year in 2002–2003 and continues until 2012. Research focuses on contextual factors that support the planning, development, and sustainability of ECSs; the schools’ structural, organizational, and instructional characteristics; and the intermediate and long-term outcomes for students attending the schools.
The design’s two major components are (1) an implementation study, involving site visits and interviews with intermediaries and school personnel, classroom observations, and student focus groups; and (2) an impact study of short- and long-term quantitative indicators of student success.