Panel Paper: The Impact of Early College High Schools On College Readiness and College Enrollment

Thursday, November 7, 2013 : 11:50 AM
Thomas Boardroom (Westin Georgetown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Julie Edmunds1, Fatih Unlu2, Elizabeth Glennie3, Arthur Smith2 and Larry Bernstein4, (1)University of North Carolina, Greensboro, (2)Abt Associates, Inc., (3)RTI International, (4)Data Smarts, LLC
Early colleges are small schools that blur the line between high school and college. Targeted at students who are underrepresented in college, early colleges serve students in grades 9-12 or 13. Students are expected to graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree or two years of transferable college credit.

This paper will present results from a longitudinal experimental study funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. The study used a lottery-based design in which students who applied to the early college were randomly selected to attend. The control students were randomly selected not to attend and attended “business as usual,” most frequently the traditional high school in the district.  

The study used an intent-to-treat framework supplemented by an estimate of the Local Average Treatment Effect. The primary impact estimates for the administrative and survey data were obtained from multivariate linear regression models that incorporated site fixed effects and baseline covariates. This created site-specific estimates that were then weighted by the number of students in each site and pooled to create an impact estimate for the average student who applied to enroll in an early college and went through the lottery.

The paper will present results on selected high school and postsecondary outcomes related to college readiness and success for a sample of approximately 700 students in six schools. Key findings that will be presented include the following:

  • Early college students were more likely to be successfully completing the courses they need for entrance into college.  In 10th grade, there was a 21 percentage point impact on the percentage of students who were on-track for college. In 11th grade, this impact was 17 percentage points.
  • The model had a 6 percentage point impact on graduation rates, with higher impacts seen for students who are members of the target populations. The impact on minority students was 11 percentage points; for first generation college-goers, it was 9 percentage points. Low-income students had an impact of 8 percentage points and initially low-performing students had a very large impact of 18 percentage points.

By the sixth year after entering high school, 86 percent of early college students had ever enrolled in college compared to 65 percent of the control group. The model also had a 10 percentage point impact on four-year college enrollment rates.