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Early Colleges/Middle Colleges: Student Eligibility Requirements

This database sets forth the grade level, academic and other eligibility requirements students must meet to participate in early and middle college high schools.

Highlights:
  • Five states — Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — specify that students may enter programs in grade 9.
  • Two states — California and Pennsylvania — do not set minimum grade level requirements for early and middle college high school students.
  • Two states — Colorado and Texas — specify academic conditions students must meet, either to enter or to continue in early and middle college programs.

    What's not included in this database:
  • While partnerships between districts and postsecondary institutions make early and middle college high schools available in many states, the state policies governing these partnerships are often either intended for dual enrollment, charter or alternative programs. Such policies are not usually a good fit with the unique characteristics of early and middle colleges. State policies included here are specifically designed to provide a comprehensive structure for early and middle college high schools.
  • State policies that address early college or middle college in piecemeal fashion but do not address the overall structure or functioning of programs.
  • State programs that allow high school students to earn substantial amounts of postsecondary credit but do not appear to fully align with the early or middle college model (i.e., West Virginia EDGE).

    As of August 2008, seven states have explicit state-level policies governing the creation of local early and/or middle college high school partnerships. States whose local early/middle college programs are governed by dual enrollment or charter school policies are not included in this database.

  • Sources for all data points are accessible through this link.

    Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and state education agency Web sites, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

    Last updated: August 20, 2008

    This database was compiled by Jennifer Dounay, project manager, ECS High School Policy Center. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3689 or jdounay@ecs.org.

    Student eligibility requirements
    California Grade level: Not set in state policy. In practice, the grade level for the MCHS model was grades 9-12, or commencing with the first year of high school. However, some MCHS have been established to start with grade 10 or 11, by local decision.
    Academic: Not set in state policy
    Other: Not set in state policy
    Colorado Grade level: Must begin program in grade 9
    Academic: Must maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average each semester in the program. The contract between a district and postsecondary institution must establish the level of academic readiness a student must meet to enroll in postsecondary courses.
    Other: School district may establish additional participation requirements, including requiring year-round classes and requiring a specified level of participation from students' parents.
    Michigan Grade level: Min. grade 9
    Academic: Not set in state policy
    Other: Not set in state policy
    North Carolina 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."
    Pennsylvania Each district/postsecondary partnership agreement specifies the student eligibility criteria, but must include all of the following:
    (1) Postsecondary placement test scores.
    (2) The results of nationally available achievement tests or other standardized tests included in the high school partner's local assessment system.
    (3) Satisfactory progress toward completing high school graduation requirements, as determined by the high school partner.
    (4) Demonstrated readiness for college-level coursework, as determined by the postsecondary institution.
    (5) Status as a high school junior or senior.

    However, the program must also develop criteria to allow students who do not meet the criteria set forth in the agreement, to enroll in the program.

    The agreement must also specify the minimum performance criteria, in both high school and postsecondary courses, students must meet to remain in the program.
    Tennessee Grade level: Min. grade 9
    Academic: Not set in state policy
    Other: Determined by the LEAs and one or more public postsecondary institutions.
    Texas Grade level: Min. grade 9
    Academic: Each student must be assessed "for readiness to engage in any college-level curriculum offered for college credit prior to the student's enrollment" in college work. TAKS, ACT and SAT scores may be used for this purpose. The program must determine "what forms of assistance and remediation, if any, are necessary" before a student may enroll in college-level coursework, "based on the results of the assessment and other indicators of student readiness."
    Other: Not set in state policy


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