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New Guide Helps With College Experience in High School

There has been lots of talk in policy circles about the value of students taking college courses while still in high school. In an effort to expand these opportunities, A Policymaker's Guide to Early College Designs: Expanding a Strategy for Achieving College Readiness for All has been developed by Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based nonprofit.

Early-college designs adapt dual enrollment as a schoolwide strategy, focusing on unprepared, low-income students who may need extra academic support to get into and succeed in college. Often, it's the students already on track for college who are most likely to take college-prep classes. This early-college design approach aims to expand those opportunities to a wider range of students. By earning college credit in high school, students can save money and time—often giving them the push they need to get a jump-start on college and complete a degree.

The guide provides information to help state and local policymakers as they develop, expand, and scale up early-college coursetaking. JFF's goal is that every state adopts early-college designs to ensure that every student can graduate from high school prepared to earn a postsecondary credential or degree, according to the guide.

JFF is the national coordinator of the Early College High School Initiative and reports the concept has promising results. The graduation rate for early-college schools in 2008 was about 92 percent, while the national average is 69 percent. Upon graduation, 86 percent of students went to college immediately after high school, as opposed to 66 percent nationally.

There are now 201 early-college high schools in 24 states. About 70 percent of those enrolled are students of color, and 59 percent were eligible for free or reduced lunch, according to JFF.

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