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Early Colleges/Middle Colleges: Targets Specific Programs or Student Groups

This database indicates where states target specific student groups for participation in early and middle college high school programs, or encourage programs to focus on specific technical fields.

Why does it matter?
  • At-risk students benefit from earning a credential that will allow them to apply for high-demand, high-paying jobs with career potential.

  • Highlights
  • North Carolina and Tennessee require early college high school programs to lead to advanced programs or employment opportunities in engineering, health sciences, or teaching, while Michigan provides state grant support for programs focused on health sciences.
  • California, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas specify that programs must target students who are at risk of dropping out.

    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

    Targets specific programs or student groups
    California Programmatic: Not set in state policy
    Student groups: Middle college high schools are to serve "at-risk high school students who are performing below their academic potential" so as to reduce the likelihood they will drop out of high school.
    Colorado Programmatic: Not set in state policy. A contract between an eligible school district and a postsecondary institution must specify the associate's degrees or career and technical education programs available to students through the local Fast College Fast Jobs program.
    Student groups: Students in target high schools in eligible school districts. Target high schools and eligible school districts must meet at least one of the following criteria:
    (1) Having had a contract with a community college to implement a dual degree program within the two years prior to the 2007 enabling legislation's effective date OR
    (2) Having had a graduation rate below 75% in the 2004-2005 school year.
    Michigan Programmatic: While state grants are available to support the creation of middle colleges focused on health sciences, programs not using these funds may select other areas of concentration
    Student groups: Not set in state policy
    North Carolina Programmatic: Engineering, health sciences, teaching
    Student groups: Must target students at risk of dropping out or students "who would benefit from accelerated academic instruction."
    Pennsylvania Programmatic: Postsecondary courses must either fulfill a graduation requirement or be identified as advanced coursework in a core academic subject as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
    Student groups: Not set in state policy
    Tennessee Programmatic: Engineering, health sciences, teaching
    Student groups: Must target students at risk of dropping out or students "who would benefit from accelerated academic instruction."
    Texas Programmatic: Not set in state policy
    Student groups: Early college programs must target students "at risk of dropping out or who wish to accelerate completion of the high school program." Legislation authorizes administrative rules to give admissions preference in early college programs to students who are first-generation college goers.

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