Early College High School Program to Expand

February 4, 2020

TCC is expanding its Early College High School pilot program to serve not just Tulsa country, but the entirety of the College’s service area.

The program will see more area high school students eventually attending class at TCC’s West and Northeast campuses, as well as the Northeastern State University – Broken Arrow campus.

Early College High School is a dual-credit program, free to students, and operates under an Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education exception as a pilot within the TCC umbrella of Dual Credit to College Degree programs. The program is operated according to the ECHS Blueprint, which is based on seven guiding principles and best practices from national associations, peer-reviewed research, non-profits, peer institutions, and TCC’s ECHS pilot.

“The pilot with Union High School has been an intentional way for us to learn how to support these students and our districts in an early college high school model in dual credit,” says Lissa Steadley, TCC director of concurrent enrollment programs.

“Even our expansion is still a pilot. Because we’re the largest provider of dual-credit in Oklahoma, we pilot new programs, learn, and share with other institutions. The Early College model is a unique and focused intervention requiring collaborative partnerships with K-12 districts and a shared funding model.”

ECHS supports traditionally underserved populations, and effort is made to ensure student cohorts are representative of the area districts.

“It’s a national effort to reduce equity gaps for very targeted populations,” says Kristopher Copeland, provost, TCC West Campus. “The whole goal is to help low income, first-generation, underrepresented minority students obtain an associate degree by the time they graduate high school.”

Recruitment of students begins in 8th grade. Ninth grade becomes a preparatory year with advanced high school content courses, an “Introduction to College” course, and a post-9th grade Summer Bridge. Students have to meet the OSRHE admission and enrollment criteria by the end of 9th grade to be admitted to the program.

Once admitted, students are put in cohorts of 20. Each cohort is comprised of:

  • Minimum of 80 percent economically challenged
  • First-generation college students to approximately 50 percent
  • Underrepresented populations in higher education

In 10th grade, students take 12 college credit hours. In 11th and 12th grade, they take 24 college credit hours (with a maximum of two high school classes). They also receive mandatory tutoring, transportation to and from TCC campuses, and participate in cohort events. They complete the program with a high school diploma and an Associate of Liberal Arts degree.

“We are in our third year at Union High School. Students in our first cohort are juniors now. Out of that cohort, we have been able to retain the vast majority of them. Their GPAs are really high, and their success rate is at 98 percent of passing a course at C or better,” says Copeland. “They are doing really well.”

The first cohorts of the pilot expansion will begin attending classes on TCC campuses during the 2022/23 academic year.

“Although we have these Early College High Schools, we will still have a robust dual credit program and are still doing the work that’s related to dual credit,” says Steadley. “That is not going away. Students not participating in an Early College High School will still take college classes starting their junior year and can also graduate with an associate degree. Early college high school is only one program within the dual-credit office.

“This is an intentional program that will bring college to students who are less likely to pursue and succeed in higher education.”