UNCG Campus Weekly

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$1.9 Million for Study of Early Colleges

042011Feature_SERVEA groundbreaking study of North Carolina’s early college high schools by SERVE Center at UNCG will continue thanks to a new three-year, $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

The additional funding will allow researchers, led by principal investigator Julie Edmunds, Ph.D., to continue tracking early college students and a control group of students in traditional high schools.

“We’re going to follow these students through high school graduation and beyond,” Edmunds said. “We’ll be making site visits and looking at how early colleges prepare students for postsecondary education. We’ll collect information about the number of college credits students earn during high school and where they enroll afterwards.”

The study already has found that ninth-graders in early college are more likely to be on track for college and much less likely to be suspended than their peers in traditional high schools, according to a 2010 report by SERVE Center. Early colleges also appear to shrink the performance gap between minority and non-minority students.

Early colleges are located on college campuses, serve fewer than 400 students, and allow students to graduate in four or five years with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree or two years of college credit. They serve students in groups traditionally underrepresented in college: students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, students who would be the first in their families to attend college, and students who are members of underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.

The SERVE Center study used a lottery to assign students to early colleges or traditional high schools. The research team tracked and compared the groups using a range of measures.

“The beauty of a study like this is that we can say that the results were caused by whether the students attended early college or not,” said Ludy van Broekhuizen, PhD, executive director of SERVE Center. “A rigorous, experimental study like this one allows us to take student selection bias out of the equation.”

The project’s research team is led by SERVE Center and includes the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the North Carolina New Schools Project, Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy, Abt Associates, RTI International and faculty from UNCG.

UNCG’s SERVE Center is an education research and development center. It houses the Regional Educational Laboratory for the Southeast; the National Center for Homeless Education; and numerous other technical assistance, research and evaluation projects.

By Dan Nonte
Photography from University Relations archives.