Individual Presentation


Scarbrough 3

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership


The national mission of the Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI) connects to the strand of academic achievement and leadership in its effort to close the achievement gap for those traditionally underperforming populations. The ECHSI was developed with the philosophy that when challenged, the underrepresented populations in higher education – first-generation, low SES background, students of color, and black male students - will rise to the challenge of a rigorous and accelerated high school curriculum while beginning their college tenure in high school. The ECHSI looks to address the issues of high school dropout, post-secondary readiness, and career readiness. Partnering with the Georgia State Board of Regents and the Atlanta Public Schools in 2005, Georgia State University showed its support of this overriding philosophy and mission and became the state’s first Early College High School’s partner Institution of Higher Education. Under the guiding mission and philosophy, the Georgia State Early College program has worked successfully to reduce the achievement gap and introduce the option of college to the Early College students of two of Georgia’s Early College high schools through successful programs and strategies focused on high school graduation and post-secondary and career readiness.

Brief Program Description

The session will present specific programmatic strategies implemented within the Georgia State University Early College program that have successfully produced over 600 attendees and graduates of the program since 2007. The session will demonstrate the effective partnership between secondary and post-secondary educational entities that has resulted in a 99% high school graduation and an 87% college attendance rate.


Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI) developed in 2002. This initiative’s objective is to offer first-generation, students of color, and students of low SES backgrounds the opportunity to earn considerable college credit while pursuing their high school diploma. Georgia State University conceived its first early college partnership with Carver Early College High School in 2005, and later Booker T. Washington High School in 2009. The purpose of this proposal is to demonstrate the strengths of the specific Early College strategies used at Georgia State in reducing the achievement gap through dropout prevention and post-secondary and career readiness programs while promoting learning for traditionally low-performing students. The Georgia State Early College program has utilized various practices to improve post-secondary readiness and access and graduation rates. These practices include: parent orientations, a summer enrichment program, touch-ins, study sessions, professional luncheons, supplemental programs, and grade reporting. Parents attend an orientation where they are briefed on the requirements of the program and meet Georgia State Early College personnel. Parents are in constant contact with Early College administration to stay abreast of Early College activities and students’ progress. Students attend the on-campus summer enrichment program to prepare them for their first year of college courses. In Touch- in sessions students are directly advised on the social, emotional, and academic aptitudes needed to achieve success at a major Research I university. Additionally, personal and inter-personal concerns are addressed. Also, Touch-in’s feature bi-monthly professional luncheons in which students have the opportunity to interact and gain insight from professionals within various industries and disciplines. Study sessions are small group tutorial sessions with a study coach who is an upper-level college student. Study coaches assist students with collegiate assignments and serve as mentors to students. In addition to touch-ins, study sessions, and professional luncheons, students are encouraged to participate in the supplemental programs that are partnered with Georgia State Early College. These programs feature mentorship, STEM, and media concentrations, among others. Students have various avenues of support that ensure academic excellence and social/emotional development necessary for higher education.


As reported by Project GRAD Atlanta, in 2002 the graduation rate at Carver High School was 14% and 58% at Washington High School ( . Upon the reconstitution of both school campuses into small schools (400 student attendance), the Early College high schools, on each campus, boasted markedly improved graduation rates. In 2011 Carver Early College’s graduation rate was reported by Project GRAD Atlanta as 99% and Washington Early College’s, in 2013, as 73.9%. These increased graduation rates support the research that Early College High schools throughout the nation are improving high school graduation rates (Berger, Adelman, and Cole, 2010). However, Early College High Schools also work towards post-secondary readiness and access. As explained, the Early College High school “should increase the number of high school graduates ready for college because ‘encountering the rigor, depth, and intensity of college work at an earlier age inspires average, underachieving, and well-prepared high school students’”(350, Edmunds et al., 2010). To this end, Georgia State has successfully served, on campus, over 600 students, hosting approximately 130 students per semester since 2007. Working with the Early College High schools, Carver and Washington high school students are able to begin their tenure at Georgia State during their junior and senior years, as the design of the high school permits this focus on college. “In these schools, students are moved quickly through a high school curriculum with a focus on advancing students efficiently, leaving more time during the traditional high school years for students to make serious inroads into college completion” (345, Berger, Adelman, and Cole, 2010). As a result of this primary focus on college classes, Early College students at Georgia State have consistently demonstrated high levels of success. In an effort to foster academic success, students are required to maintain at least a 2.0 to remain at Georgia State. Consistently 89% of the students achieve this goal during their two year tenure. Research has supported the hypothesis that “even reluctant or discouraged high school students, who may be unengaged in traditional school settings, can be motivated…to view themselves as successful participants in the college experience.” The support has come in the form of three primary benefits of such programs as the ECHSI “(a) the opportunity to earn free college credit, (b) gaining “a taste” of college, and (c) increasing students’ confidence in their academic abilities.”(334, Berger, Adelman, and Cole, 2010). In realizing success at Georgia State, Early College students are able to earn an average of 24 credit hours upon high school graduation. According to research, “if students can graduate from high school with at least six college classes, it will make college completion more likely” (334, Berger, Adelman, and Cole, 2010). This has proven to be true for many of Georgia State’s Early College students as by spring 2011, 229 Early College students had graduated from high school with college credits from Georgia State University. As of spring 2011 177 (77.3%) students were enrolled at a college in the USA and 136 (59.4%) were enrolled at a college in Georgia. The rates have continued to rise over the years as 100% of the 61 member class of 2013 were accepted into a two or four year college/university with 87% enrolling in an institution of higher education in the subsequent 2013-2014 academic year. Due to the success that many students have found at Georgia State, Early College students are deciding, at higher rates, to remain at GSU for their traditional college tenure. In the 2014 class alone one-third of Early College students remained at GSU beginning their tenure with an average of 24 credit hours. As Early College students become more and more competitive, they continue to receive scholarships offers from a variety of colleges and universities. In 2013 Early College students from both high schools received over $10 million in scholarships and in recent years have been accepted to schools such as: Harvard University, MIT, Ohio State University, Johns Hopkins University, Howard University, Penn State, Georgia State, and more. With the Early College High School Initiative students are able to see the reduction of financial and admission barriers traditionally faced by low-income students (Edmunds et. al., 2010) and move into a reality once only dreamed of. Works Cited Berger, A., Adelman, N., & Cole, S. (2010). The early college high school initiative: An overview of five evaluation years. Peabody Journal of Education, 85, 333-347. Edmunds, J. A., Bernstein, L., Glennie, E., Willse, J., Arshavsky, N., Unlu, F., Bartz, D.,Silberman, T., Scales, W. D., & Dallas, A. (2010). Preparing students for college: The implementation and impact of the early college high school model. Peabody Journal of Education, 85, 348-364. doi:10.1080/0161956X.2010.491702. Project GRAD (2012). Project GRAD At-a-Glance. Retrieved from

Biographical Sketch

Tene Harris Davis currently serves as the Associate Director of Georgia State University’s Early College Program. Prior to her appointment she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant to the Early College program while pursuing her Ph. D. in Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State. Dr. Davis has also served as an instructor within the Educational Policy Studies Department at Georgia State. Before her work at Georgia State, she worked in the Atlanta Public Schools system as an elementary school teacher. Dr. Davis holds a M. Ed in Curriculum and Instruction and B.A. in Afro-American Studies from Howard University.

Kalisha Woods is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Educational Psychology program at Georgia State University. She currently holds a bachelor degree in Psychology from Florida A&M University as well as a Master’s degree in School Counseling from Clark Atlanta University. Kalisha currently serves as an Early College Liaison within the Georgia State University Early College Program and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Educational Psychology Department. Kalisha’s research interests include student perceptions of support resources, language production, and motivation.

Cedrick Dortch is a third-year doctoral student in the Educational Psychology Program at Georgia State University. He received a B.A. Degree in Psychology from Georgia State University and a M.S. Degree in Educational Psychology from Northern Illinois University. Currently, Cedrick is a graduate research assistant (GRA) with the Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence housed in GSU’s College of Education working with the Early College Program. Cedrick’s primary research focuses on minority high school students’ academic motivation, sociocultural experiences, and their matriculation to postsecondary education.

Chloe Jackson is the Lead Study Coach at Georgia State University, Early College Program. She is a graduate of the Georgia State African American Studies master’s program and her research interests include young men of color, recidivism, and job readiness. She has worked with various organizations targeting “at-risk” youth and is working to establish and/or partner with an organization that will provide job readiness skills to formerly incarcerated young men of color.

Keyword Descriptors

Dual Enrollment, Post-Secondary readiness, Career Readiness, High School Dropout Prevention, Higher Education, Partnerships, Reducing Achievement Gap, Academic Excellence, Educational Equity

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-4-2015 11:15 AM

End Date

3-4-2015 12:30 PM


Mar 4th, 11:15 AM Mar 4th, 12:30 PM

The Georgia State University Early College Program: A Practice in Student Success Relevance

Scarbrough 3

The session will present specific programmatic strategies implemented within the Georgia State University Early College program that have successfully produced over 600 attendees and graduates of the program since 2007. The session will demonstrate the effective partnership between secondary and post-secondary educational entities that has resulted in a 99% high school graduation and an 87% college attendance rate.