Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Exploring the Effects of Early College High Schools on Student Achievement and Momentum: Examples from New York City

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

John Capman and Drew Allen, City University of New York
The attainment of a postsecondary degree is fundamental to a person’s social and economic mobility in today’s economy. Individuals with a postsecondary degree earn higher incomes and experience fewer and shorter unemployment episodes over their career than those earning a high school diploma. A postsecondary degree is especially important for individuals from underserved and underrepresented groups (e.g., low-income families, students of color). Relative to those who are high SES and white, few individuals from these groups earn a postsecondary degree, which, in turn, exacerbate their already poor social and economic prospects. To address this, the City University of New York’s Early College Initiative (CUNY ECI), in partnership with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), developed several Early College schools, which blend the high school and college curriculum as a means of bolstering underserved students’ academic skills as well as their enrollment in and completion of a postsecondary degree. Following the guiding principles of the National Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI), CUNY ECI schools: (1) actively recruit and enroll underserved students, (2) employ a “whole school” dual enrollment approach, wherein all students can earn college credits and a college degree while completing high school, (3) and offer students comprehensive academic and socio-emotional supports as well as a school-wide “college-going” culture that support students as they complete college coursework and prepare for matriculation into college after high school. CUNY ECI schools are expected to increase students’ academic and postsecondary achievements by improving their college readiness, college enrollment, and postsecondary degree momentum and completion.

Early evidence indicates that Early College schools have a positive effect on students’ academic outcomes (AIR, 2013; Edmunds, 2010). Though promising, the generalizability of these findings may be limited given the populations and schools included. The current study addressed this by using a large and highly diverse sample of students from New York City, which is the largest and most diverse urban school system in the United States. We employed a quasi-experimental design to examine the effect of Early College schools on underrepresented and underserved students’ academic achievement. Using detailed academic and demographic administrative data provided by the NYCDOE, propensity score methods were used on over 460,000 students enrolled in New York City public schools from the 2006-07 through the 2012-13 academic years to develop a matched comparison group of students who were similar to CUNY ECI students on all observable characteristics (e.g., prior academic achievement and attendance, student demographics). After matching, we evaluated the academic performance and postsecondary outcomes of CUNY ECI relative to matched comparison students from middle school through college. Preliminary findings yielded significant and positive effects of CUNY ECI schools on students’ high school standardized exam and SAT performance, as well as high school graduation rate. CUNY ECI students also earned more college credits, earned higher college GPAs, and persisted longer in the CUNY system than comparison students. Results are highly valuable for informing policies concerning new approaches towards improving access to and achievement in postsecondary education for underserved and underrepresented students.