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ECS High School Policy Center (HSPC)

Governors all over the country are pledging to reform high schools. One way to do this is through the creation and support of middle colleges or early college high schools. Middle colleges are high schools located on college campuses. Early college high schools combine high school and college, and allow students to earn both a high school diploma and college credits.

Middle Colleges

The idea for middle colleges began in the 1970's and early college high schools grew out of this concept.

According to The Early College High School Concept: Requisites for Success, by Janet Lieberman, middle college structures include:

  • Total enrollment is limited to 450 students.
  • Location is on a college campus.
  • Operation is on a college schedule, with no bells, hall monitors or metal detectors.
  • High school faculty gain privileges of college faculty such as better facilities, private offices, personal telephones, professional respect and the opportunity to teach at the college level.
  • Intense peer and group counseling, with a high ratio of counselors and paraprofessionals to students.
  • Internships are encouraged.
  • Calendar is based on the college schedule.
For more information on middle colleges, contact the Middle College National Consortium.

Early College High Schools

Expanding on the middle college concept is the early college high school. Lieberman notes the following as keys to the early college high school model:
  • Reaching out for students who are underserved by the regular schools.
  • Demanding a cooperative relationship between the district high school administration and the college president.
  • Offering a different sequence of courses from the 10th grade and an accelerated program from the 9th grade to the associate's degree, which can be achieved in five years or less, instead of six.
  • Combining the resources of a high school on the college campus with the college facilities (gym, library, cafeteria), making them all available to the early college high school student.
  • Requiring active college campus collaboration from the college administrative structure: faculty interchange, support from the college divisions of finance, admissions, scheduling and counseling under a college-appointed administrator.
  • Enhancing the role of high school faculty.
  • Integrating high school and college study in an articulated program.
This Issue Site provides links to the Early College High School Initiative and its products, as well as other resources.


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