Benchmark 1: School Design
Purpose of School Design
The Early College High School (ECHS) shall establish school structures and policies, regularly convene leadership teams and ensure adequate staff capacity for the successful implementation and sustainability of the ECHS program.
All ECHSs must implement and meet the following:
- Student Cost
The ECHS program shall be offered at no cost to students.
- School Location
The ECHS location shall be:
- On a college or university campus, or
- In a high school—as a standalone high school campus or in a smaller learning community within a larger high school.
- Student Cohorts
ECHS students shall be placed in a cohort for core classes to the extent possible; this does not exclude non-ECHS students from enrolling in the same class(es).
- Flexible Scheduling
The ECHS program shall provide flexible, individualized scheduling that allows students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and enables a student to combine high school courses and college-level courses with the goal of earning an associate degree or up to 60 semester credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree.
- TSIA Testing Site
The ECHS shall be a TSI assessment site or shall be in the process of becoming a TSI assessment site. The ECHS shall provide opportunities throughout the year for students to take the TSI assessment.
- Leadership Team Strategic Priorities
The ECHS shall establish a leadership team that includes high-level personnel from the school district, campus, and institute of higher education (IHE). Each representative must report to the organization they represent and have decision-making authority. The leadership team shall develop long-term strategic priorities for the ECHS program along with a work plan for how to achieve programmatic goals in coordination with district and campus improvement planning. Regularly scheduled meetings—in person and/or virtual—must address the following objectives:
Establish and maintain the role each member will play in the design, governance, operations, accountability, curriculum development, professional development, outreach, sustainability, monitoring, and continuous improvement of the ECHS
Collectively develop an MOU and review annually for necessary revisions
Define shared responsibility (between the school district and the IHE) for meeting annual outcomes-based measures (OBMs) and providing annual reports to district and IHE boards, as well as to the public
Monitor progress on meeting the Blueprint design elements, including reviewing formative data to ensure the ECHS is on-track to meet OBMs
Guide mid-course corrections as needed
Leadership Team Key Roles
The leadership team shall include leaders from the district, campus, and IHE who have decision-making authority to execute changes toward this end:
District leaders (may include):
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, or equivalent position
ECHS principal or director
ECHS liaison to the IHE or department chairs
School-business partner or CTE director (if applicable to the ECHS model)
IHE leaders (may include):
College or university president
Department chairs for core academic disciplines
Liaison to the ECHS or Dual Credit Officer
Advising or student support director
- ECHS Staff
ECHS staff shall include the following:
An ECHS leader who has authority over course and instructor scheduling, staff and faculty hiring, and budget development
An IHE liaison with decision-making authority who interacts directly and frequently (in-person or virtually) with the ECHS leader and the dual credit provider
Highly qualified ECHS teachers who work directly with the ECHS students, which may include high school faculty who must meet faculty requirements that are set by the regional accrediting association of the community college and/or university to teach college-level courses, instructors for virtual college courses, and instructors for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses
Highly qualified ECHS high school counselor who collaborates directly and frequently with the IHE advisor or liaison to support the ECHS students. The ECHS counselor and IHE advisor shall jointly support ECHS students through IHE course registration and shall monitor high school and college courses and transcripts to ensure programmatic requirements for both the high school and IHE are met
ECHS Staff Professional Development
The ECHS shall implement an annual professional development plan (i.e, calendar of events/activities) for teachers and staff, focused on research-based instructional strategies for increasing rigor and college- and career-readiness, that is based on needs assessment of student data, and includes both high school and dual credit teachers. Professional development should include, but is not limited to the following:
A mentoring and induction program for newly hired staff, providing them with the instructional and interpersonal skills and capacities needed for success in an ECHS
Opportunities for ECHS teachers and higher-education faculty to receive extensive support through regularly scheduled formative peer observations and collaboration opportunities with feeder pattern focus group and/or IHE faculty
Joint training among ECHS and higher-education college advisors and faculty (e.g., related to course requirements and addressing layered wrap-around supports for students)
Sustainability structures shall be identified and implemented to address and minimize the challenges of staff turnover and potential fluctuations in funding.
Leadership Team Strategic
Leadership Team Key Roles