Panel Paper: Impact of Early College Opportunities on English Learners

Saturday, November 10, 2018
8212 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Angela Johnson and Diana Mercado-Garcia, Stanford University

English Learners (ELs) lag behind their peers in postsecondary attainment. High school ELs are less likely to take college preparatory classes and are 18 percentage points less likely to graduate in four years. Only 18% of ELs advance directly to four-year colleges, compared to 43% of native English speakers. Instead, ELs are more likely to enroll in two-year colleges or not participate in higher education at all. As the EL population continues to grow, so does concern over their underrepresentation in higher education.

Research shows that students’ college transition benefits from high school curriculum rigor and support from peer and adult mentors. To expand access to rigorous courses and social support, high schools across the nation have adopted the Early College model in the past couple of decades. Early College High Schools (ECHSs) offer students opportunities to earn college credit and provide academic and personal support through advisories and tutoring. Prior studies demonstrate that ECHS attendance led to an increase in college credit completion and in certificate and AA completion. Students also reported benefiting from higher academic and social expectations from the faculty, trusting relationships with caring adults, and accountability among peers.

However, most of the evidence comes from data on native English users. Little is known about the impact of Early College opportunities on ELs. To address this gap, we examine the effects of attending a high school with Early College opportunities on ELs’ academic outcomes. Our research questions are:

  1. What is the impact of Early College opportunities on high school graduation rates and college credit completion prior to graduation?
  2. What is the impact of Early College opportunities on college attendance after high school and enrollment intensity?

To answer these questions, we apply a difference-in-differences-in-differences approach to 10 years of administrative records and matched National Student Clearinghouse data from a large urban school district in California. Starting in 2017, two high schools enrolled whole cohorts of 11th and 12th grade students in classes at a local community college. Leveraging this exogenous policy change, we examine the outcomes of pre- and post-program cohorts of students in treated and untreated high schools and compare ELs to non-ELs. First year findings and survey responses from high school students and graduates will be reported.