This Policy Analysis from Education Commission of the States defines early college high schools, clarifies how they differ from traditional dual enrollment programs, provides an overview of the structure and impact of early college high schools and outlines key model policy components to enhance high school and postsecondary outcomes for traditionally underrepresented students.
As projected workforce needs continue to change, states are responding by implementing educational programs designed to help ensure students graduate high school with the skills and credentials necessary for future success. Although many existing programs provide students with the opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school, some states have developed early college high schools, a model aimed at traditionally undeserved students and specifically designed to allow students to complete both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, technical certification or enough postsecondary credits to enter a four-year institution as a junior.