The California Department of Education (CDE) partners with the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office to support the Early College High School (ECHS) Initiative of the Foundation for California Community Colleges.
California Education Code (EC) Section 11302 declares that 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:
- They are designed so that all students can achieve two years of college credit at the same time they are earning a high school diploma (within four to five years of entering grade nine).
- Students start college work based on their performance.
- By reaching out to middle schools or starting with grade seven and providing extensive support, ECHS ensure that all students are ready for college-level courses while still enrolled in high school.
ECHS are designed for students who are underrepresented in postsecondary education, including: students who have not had access to the academic preparation needed to meet college readiness standards, students for whom the cost of college is prohibitive, students of color, first generation college-goers, and English learners.
ECHS serve the developmental and intellectual needs of young people. The schools remove major barriers to postsecondary access and success. Students are rewarded for hard work by the opportunity to accelerate and to earn two years of college credit 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 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. California Education Code 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 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. Early College High Schools follow the same process as traditional schools for the application for a CDS code (DOC). Applicants should indicate that their school is an Early College High School 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 will know that the school is an Early College High School. For assistance in applying for a CDS code, please contact the CDS Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 916-327-4014.
Charter Schools that operate as Early College agencies and plan to apply for a County-District-School (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.
Charter Schools that operate as ECHS follow the same process as other charter schools for the application for a CDS code (DOC). Charter schools should indicate that their school is an ECHS either in the school name on the application for a charter school number, or in the board minutes that accompany their charter school numbering submission package. This notation is the only way the CDE will know that the school is an ECHS.
For assistance with the process for establishing a charter school, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions page.
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.