CELL Develops Endorsement Process for Early College Schools
The Early College High School model is often misunderstood as simply a dual credit program for high school students. However, the model encompasses several Core Principals that make it distinct from traditional schools. To ensure high-quality Early College schools in Indiana, CELL developed an endorsement process to promote strong fidelity to the model and to give schools a clear pathway to achieve the Core Principles required of an Early College High School.
“It is critical that schools carefully consider how to develop pathways that lead students to success,” Lynn Lupold, CELL fellow for high school networks, said. “CELL’s endorsement process ensures that schools considering the Early College High School model plan and prepare in a way that will ensure success and sustainability.”
The endorsement process has six distinct steps. First, the superintendent submits a letter of intent to investigate the ECHS model. CELL then facilitates a site visit so the district can explore the ECHS model and determine its readiness to submit an application. The application outlines how the high school’s design will adhere to the Early College Core Principles. This is submitted three to six months before the school district’s draft master plan is due. The master plan details how the school will implement the ECHS Core Principles and includes the memorandum of understanding between the high school and its selected higher education partner. Lupold points out that this can be one of the most crucial steps in the process.
“Schools should be careful when choosing a college partner. The relationship should be one that is strong enough to withstand the test of time because the program will fail if students can’t access dual credit courses.”
CELL reviews the draft master plan and works with schools to help them meet the ECHS Core Principles. The district then submits a final plan for approval.
After opening to students, the school must go through an evaluation process to demonstrate its fidelity to the Core Principles. Schools meeting all Early College High School criteria will become endorsed programs. Using a school success rubric, endorsed schools continue to undergo review and evaluation until the first class of students graduate.
The endorsement process requires extensive planning and ongoing evaluation, but guarantees high-quality Early College High Schools for students.
“The Early College endorsement process is not meant to be difficult. It is meant to ensure that schools are sufficiently prepared to meet the high academic standards that we associate with the Early College High School model.”
Completing the process has many benefits. Schools achieving the endorsed Early College status receive statewide recognition, become host sites for executive tours, are honored with a banner for their school, are listed on CELL’s Web site, and receive ongoing coaching and support to maintain their status.
Published: October 2009