After listening to colleagues describe how at-risk, low-income, first-generation college going students are graduating high school with a 2-year degree along with their diploma, I was eager to go and learn more. A visit to Akron Early College High School offered me that opportunity!

Walking through the doors of the Polsky Building on the University of Akron campus felt like every other building I’ve been in on college campuses. There was smell of Starbucks in the air and the bustle of students running off to classes. Where were the Early College High School students in the mix?

After a brief meeting with Marilyn Bennett, the principal of Akron Early College High School, and her staff, the answer became clear. They were blended into the campus and part of the regular college experience. The high school students were all around me but didn’t stand out from their college peers. They were fully integrated into the college experience.

As we walked through the hallways, Marilyn was able to point out each Early College student in the crowd. Not your typical high school students for sure! They were focused, quiet and studying in small groups, unlike the typical chatter I’m used to in study areas.

Devon Clark credits his time at Akron Early College High School with making him the person he is today.My tour group spent time speaking with Devon Clark, a senior at Akron Early College High School. The message was clear. The early college high school experience has played a huge role in transforming his life.

Devon summed it up by saying, “Early College High School has made me the person I am and I’m happy with that. My focus is on completing school and becoming an Anesthesiologist. At the end of the day I focus on handling my business because I want to succeed.”

It was clear to me that nothing is going to get in his way.

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“Here in America, we don’t guarantee equal outcomes…but we do expect that everybody gets an equal shot,” said President Obama in Knoxville, Tennessee, during a speech earlier today.

The subject of the President’s speech was a proposed policy to make community college tuition-free, opening the doors to higher education for everyone.

President Obama’s interest in getting more Americans to pursue higher education is not new. Earlier in presidency he set a goal for our country: “That by 2020, America would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”

EDWorks Early College High Schools are helping more students achieve the dream of higher education and are removing barriers of entry for first-generation college goers, low-income students, English language learners and students of color.

“Early College is a transformative enrollment and retention strategy,” EDWorks President Harold Brown said. “Our national data indicate that Early College High School students who earn 25-30 college credits while in high school are twice as likely to complete a four year degree as compared to their peers!”

Vice President Joe Biden quoted President John F. Kennedy, Jr., saying, “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.” Today was a large step towards progress.

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Blogging Highlights from 2014

December 24, 2014

This year has been a busy one for EDWorks. Check out some of our blogging highlights from the year: Recognizing Success at Akron Early College High School: Kwame Boakye Kwame Boakye, a student at Akron ECHS, is on track to earn his associate degree by the time he graduates from high school. He’ll be the […]

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From Lorain County Early College High School to Medical School

October 27, 2014
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Lorain County Early College High School was the second early college high school to be established in Ohio and it was built around ensuring students access to higher education and opportunities to improve their future. With this in mind, founding principal Roslyn M. Valentine, now an EDWorks Technical Assistance Coach, worked with administrators to make […]

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A Simplified View of Data and Assessment

October 22, 2014
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We spend a lot of time in schools working with principals and teachers. Each member of our team can tell a story about how the mere mention of “data” or “assessment” sucked the air out of a room and shut down conversation. There’s a stigma about data. Maybe it’s the fact that data and assessments […]

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Make Dreams of College a Reality

October 15, 2014
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I just recently learned about a program, Juma Ventures, that’s focused on ensuring first generation students complete college. They share a large collection of Juma success stories. My hat’s off to the Juma coaches who work every day to make the dream of college education a reality for so many students! If I close my […]

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