Designated programs should be a partnership between at least one institution of higher education and one public secondary school and district, and may include one or more employers. These partnerships, the foundation for the early college model, are designed to propel students toward high school graduation while simultaneously earning college credit toward career certifications, two-year degrees, and/or credits that can be transferred toward the completion of four-year degrees.
Partnerships should present evidence that the program is consistent with collective bargaining agreements and memoranda of understanding detailing the nature of governance, budget, sustainability, scheduling, respective responsibilities, and performance measures. Programs should be sufficient in size to capture economies of scale goals and to ensure long-term sustainability.
Fundamentally, an effective and sustainable early college program necessitates a fully integrated partnership between the school, district, and postsecondary institution. Tacit agreement to collaborate is not sufficient—deep commitment to partnership and continued full collaboration on both sides is imperative. While designation purposes therefore require substantive evidence of these partnerships in the form of a MOU, what will be most important to maintain these partnerships will be clear and respected relationships between instructors and leadership at both institutions.
Dreama Gentry, Executive Director of Partners for Education at Berea College, shares four interconnected strategies for ensuring that partnerships optimize results for students and their families.