|Early Colleges/Middle Colleges|
|Brief profile of state policy||Governor Mike Easley's Learn and Earn Early College High School Initiative, launched in 2004, offers students the opportunity to begin working toward earning a high school diploma and associate's degree (or two years of college credit) in five years, beginning in grade 9. The legislation for these programs refers to "cooperative innovative high school programs." The North Carolina New Schools Project, created in August 2003 by the governor's cabinet and the Public School Forum with financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, assists local sites in developing and implementing early college high schools.|
|Who may establish (charter, LEA, etc.)||LEA and at least one local board of trustees (of a community college, "constituent institution of the University of North Carolina, or private college located in North Carolina.")|
|Unique characteristics||Economic development: State policy makes clear that early college programs must further state and/or regional economic development efforts, not just student achievement. Programs must: |
(1) Provide students with the opportunity to gain skills needed to secure high-skilled employment.
(2) Allow students to complete a technical or academic program in a high-demand field that offers high wages.
(3) Enable students completing the program to pass employer exams, if applicable.
An application to establish an early college high school must include a "statement of how the program relates to the Economic Vision Plan adopted for the economic development region in which the program is to be located." In approving an application, the state board of education and the postsecondary institution's governing board must give priority to applications that, among other characteristics, "address the economic development needs of the economic development regions in which they are located[.]"
A private business or organization and/or the county board of commissioners in the county in which the program is located may participate in the development of an early college high school program. Such additional partners must jointly apply with the district and the postsecondary institution's board of trustees to establish an early college program.
Online early college: Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, students in participating high schools who meet college-set prerequisites may take Learn and Earn courses online. (A student's high school does not need to be a Learn and Earn high school.) Students may access these courses during the regular school day. An "online course facilitator will assist students in the classroom." According to the state department of education Web site, about 277 high schools were participating in the online initiative as of fall 2007.
EARN grants: Two-year EARN grants allow qualifying Learn and Earn and other students to graduate from college with no debt obligations. Candidates must have graduated from a North Carolina high school within seven months of receiving a grant, be a full-time student at an eligible North Carolina postsecondary institution, a community college or University of North Carolina campus, be a dependent of a parent whose household income does not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level, and remain in good academic standing.
State funding for secondary schools: Each program is treated as an individual high school for funding purposes, even if it is located at another high school, or at a two- or four-year institution.
|Student eligibility requirements||Grade level: Min. grade 9|
Academic: The selection committee for each University of North Carolina (UNC)-based early college program must base selection decisions on "academic credentials" and other factors (see "Other" below). In addition, before enrolling in a UNC university-level course, "students must demonstrate readiness to succeed in these courses." A standard measure of readiness is determined by each early college and university.
Other: Determined by the local district and the postsecondary partner's board of trustees. Selection of students for early colleges on UNC campuses is made by a selection committee that must include "local public school officials, university academic affairs officials, university student affairs officials and college officials. Selection must be based on academic credentials, disciplinary records, potential of successful completion of high school [and] university course requirements and potential for contribution to the intellectual and social strength of the college environment."
|Targets specific programs or student groups||Programmatic: Engineering, health sciences, teaching|
Student groups: Must target students at risk of dropping out or students "who would benefit from accelerated academic instruction."
|Student counseling/support component||Yes. Programs must "provide consistent counseling, advising and parent conferencing so that parents and students can make responsible decisions regarding course taking and can track students' academic progress and success."|
|Students/parents must be notified of early college/middle college opportunities||No. There is no requirement that all parents and prospective students must be notified, although programs must "develop methods for early identification of potential participating students in the middle grades and through high school." Programs must, as part of their proposal, develop a plan for student selection and recruitment; the North Carolina New Schools Project stresses the importance of recruitment in gaining the participation of first-generation college-goers and free- and reduced-lunch students.|
|College partners can be two-year/four-year/both||Both (public and private four-year institutions, community colleges)|
|Where courses provided||Programs may be provided in "a school within a school, a technical high school, or a high school or technical center located on the campus of a college or university." If the program includes a partnership with a private business or organization or the county board of commissioners in the county in which the program is located, the program may be operated there, as well.|
If a University of North Carolina (UNC) system institution is the postsecondary partner, the early college must be located on the university campus.
In addition, the Learn and Earn Online program makes the program available to students in participating high schools. Learn and Earn Online high schools are in addition to those that have bricks-and-mortar Learn and Earn programs.
|Program may award associate's degrees|
Notes/Citation: Programs must allow students to earn "a high school diploma in less than four years, to begin or complete an associate degree program, to master a certificate or vocational program, or to earn up to two years of college credit."
|Public postsecondary institutions required to accept credits||Yes. Learn and Earn and Learn and Earn Online courses are covered by the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA). As such, academic core courses completed with a "C" or better through an associate's degree program will be recognized across the North Carolina Community College System and the 16 UNC institutions.|
|Special teacher/faculty preparation requirements||No. However, programs must "[e]ncourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods." Program applications must describe the "qualifications required for individuals employed in the program."|
|Evaluative component||Yes. The state board of education and postsecondary governing boards (the state board of community colleges, the board of governors of the University of North Carolina, board of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities) must evaluate the success of students in early college high schools, as measured by: |
(1) High school retention rates
(2) High school completion rates
(3) High school dropout rates
(4) Certification and associate degree completion
(5) Admission to four-year institutions
(6) Postgraduation employment in career or study-related fields
(7) Employer satisfaction of employees who participated in and graduated from programs.
The boards must jointly report each year to the joint legislative education oversight committee on the evaluation of these programs.
Brief profile: North Carolina New Schools Project Web site