The College Puzzle Blog
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Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

Positive Research Study on Early College High Schools

Guest blogger Jamie Shkolnik, American Institutes for Research

The Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI) was started in 2002 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the goal of improving postsecondary access and success, particularly for student populations underrepresented in higher education. Schools in this initiative are characterized by partnerships with an institution of higher education (IHE) and the goal of having students earn up to two years of college credit concurrently with the high school diploma. AIR and SRI International have been contracted to conduct a national evaluation of the ECHSI.

On March 24, 2008, Jamie Shkolnik and Joel Knudson presented “Credit Where Credit is Due: An Examination of College Course-Taking at Early College High Schools,” at the American Educational Research Association conference in New York City. They presented data on Early College School (ECS) students’ college course-taking to assess the integration of college courses in high school. Data for this presentation came from a school survey administered to the population of ECSs and a student survey administered at a sample of 20 ECSs, both administered during the 2006-07 school year.

Shkolnik and Knudson found that the majority of ECSs (92%) offer college courses, and that most ECS students (65%) had taken a college class. This compared favorably to high schools nationwide, where only 5% of high school students took college classes in 2002-03 (Kleiner & Lewis, 2005). Students were increasingly likely to take college courses as they progressed through high school; 47% of ninth graders reported having taken a course, steadily increasing to 84% of twelfth graders. Students took college courses reported enrolling in an average of three courses per year.

Students also experienced greater integration with the college environment as they progressed through the grade levels. ECSs use variety of models for providing college courses to high school students, including: a) high school teachers with adjunct status teach the courses at the high school, b) college faculty teach high school students at the high school, c) college faculty teach a group of high school student on the college campus, and d) high school students, either individually or in small groups, attend traditional college courses. Shkolnik and Knudson reported that with each successive grade level, higher percentages of students took a course on a college campus, took a course with a college instructor, and took classes with traditional college students. Most students were satisfied with their ECHS experience: 80% said that if they could start over, they would choose the ECS again.

Jamie Shkolnik is a Senior Research Scientist at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). She can be contacted at Joel Knudson is a Research Associate at AIR,

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