Earning College Credits in High School Speeds Degree Completion

January 16, 2014

About 23 percent of students who receive college credit while still enrolled in high school obtain an associate degree within two years, making them far more likely to do so than peers who do not earn college credit in high school, a new study shows.

Those students attend what are called Early College high schools, which team up with colleges and universities to allow the students to receive up to two years of college credit that can go toward an associate degree. By comparison, only 2 percent of students at high schools without Early College programs went on to receive an associate degree within two years. The study, conducted by the American Institutes for Research, reports that 81 percent of the Early College students enrolled in college, compared to only 72 percent of students who attended other high schools.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Early College High School Initiative in 2002, to help underserved students earn college degrees. The students were in ninth grade during the 2005-6, 2006-7 or 2007-8 academic years. Some were followed for almost nine years. The new study updates an earlier one, providing an additional year of postsecondary data.

“With the most recent data, all students in the study would have had at least two years after high school to earn an associate’s degree if they progressed on a traditional timeline,” said Andrea Berger, a principal researcher at AIR in a press release.

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