November 2, 2011
MCNC sponsored the first national Jam on “Taking the Best of Early College to Scale” in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Jobs for the Future, North Carolina New Schools Project, Gateway to College, The Texas High School Project, and the University System of Georgia. Almost 400 people completed the pre-Jam registration and over 200 participated in the Jam. All of the Jam partners have deep experience as intermediaries and practioners in the Early College movement.
The level of commitment was evident in the passion with which everyone spoke about the students and the work. What quickly became evident as the registrations rolled in the weeks before the Jam is that despite many local adaptations, there is almost unanimous agreement about the program components necessary for students to be successful: engaging demanding academic work coupled with a very high level of student support sets up the expectations for hard work for all students. While there is no single model, the Early College High School Initiative Design Principles give common shape to all the Early Colleges. Every participant outlined how the high school is changed to provide the support and preparation for college courses. Collaboration with the college was seen as key to a successful program. In fact, the adaptation of Early Colleges to local circumstances is often driven by the higher education partner.
Every participant weighed in on the need to be clear about the target population: students underrepresented in higher education and first in family. There was also widespread agreement that just opening up dual enrollment to this population without the adequate supports would spell disaster not only for the participants but also for the Early College Initiative in general.
What Early Colleges also share is the evidence that EC’s produce better outcomes for their students. High School and College faculty and administrators testified to the transformative nature of the Early College for their students. Uniting to prove the success of the EC’s across the country is an important job ahead of us.
Middle College and Jobs for The Future are partnering to host a Jam on “Practice and Research” on February 29th that will expand and unify our efforts to provide policy makers and school decision makers with the data they need to scale Early College.
For the full report on “The Jam on Taking Early College to Scale” go to www.mcnc.us.