Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Early College High School


California Education Code (EC) Section 11302 declares that Early College High School (ECHS) are innovative partnerships between charter or non-charter public secondary schools and a local community college, the California State University, or the University of California that allow pupils to earn a high school diploma and up to two years of college credit in four years or less. ECHS are small, autonomous schools that blend high school and college into a coherent educational program.

The basic elements of ECHS include:
  • Coherent instructional framework
  • Student-centered learning environments
  • Location near or on a college campus
  • Students simultaneously earn a high school diploma and up to two years of transferrable college credit
  • Strong school district partnerships with colleges

ECHS facilitate a greater participation of at-risk, low-income, and students of color in college level courses. ECHS potentially decrease high school drop-out rates while increasing students’ access to post-secondary education. Students are rewarded for hard work by the opportunity to accelerate at typically minor cost to the student. The physical transition between high school and college is eliminated, and learning takes place in a personalized environment where rigorous work is demanded and supported.

California Education Code (EC) 46146.5 exempts an ECHS and a MCHS from the 240-minute school day requirement. The legislation provides that a day of attendance for an ECHS or MCHS student is 180 minutes if the student is a special part-time student enrolled in a community college under specified provisions, or the student is enrolled in grades 11 or 12 and is also enrolled part-time in classes at California State University or University of California campuses. EC 46146.5 also reduces the minimum instructional time requirements for charter schools that operate as ECHS and MCHS.

Early College agencies that plan to apply for a County-District-School (CDS) code should review the Definition of a School Web page to ensure that the agency meets the definition of a school. If the agency does meet the definition of a school, the agency may apply for a CDS code. ECHSs follow the same process as traditional schools for the application for a CDS code (DOC). Applicants should indicate that their school is an ECHS either in the school name on the application, or in the board minutes that accompany the application. This notation is the only way the California Department of Education (CDE) will know that the school is an ECHS. For assistance in applying for a CDS code, please contact the CDS Administrator at cdsadmin@cde.ca.gov or by phone at 916-327-4014.

Charter schools may also indicate that their school is an ECHS in the school name or in the educational program elements of the charter petition. Additionally, a letter from the petitioner may be included in the Charter School Numbering Submission Package indicating the school’s designation as an ECHS. Again, this notation is the only way the CDE will know that the school is an ECHS.

Charter schools that operate as Early College agencies and plan to apply for a CDS code should also review the Definition of a School Web page to ensure the agency meets the definition of a school. If the agency does meet the definition of a school, the agency may apply for a CDS code.

For assistance with the process for establishing a charter school, please refer to the Charter School Division‘s Frequently Asked Questions.

For assistance with applying for a Charter School Number, please contact the Charter School Division at Charters@cde.ca.gov or by phone at 916-322-6029.

For additional information on this topic, please visit the Early College Designs-Jobs for the Future External link opens in new window or tab. Website.

Questions: Carolyn Hamilton | chamilton@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-5765 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Share this Page

Recently Posted in Grade Spans