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Early College High School

Early College High Schools are small, autonomous schools that blend high school and college into a coherent educational program.

California Education Code (EC)Section 11302 declares that Early College High Schools (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.

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.

ECHS operated by school districts must offer at least 180 days of instruction per year. All students in grades 9-12 must be offered at least 64,800 instructional minutes each year. In addition, students must be scheduled for at least the minimum school day in order for a day to count as a day of instruction. EC Section 46146.5 exempts an ECHS operated by school districts from the 240-minute minimum school day requirement for students that are concurrently enrolled. The legislation provides that a minimum school day for an ECHS 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.

Charter ECHS must offer students at least 175 instructional days. Similar to school districts, all 9-12 grade students in charter ECHS must be offered at least 64,800 instructional minutes per year and at least 80 percent of the instructional time offered by the charter school must be at the school site to generate classroom based attendance. For charter ECHS, EC Section 46146.5 reduces the minimum 80 percent instructional time scheduling requirement in order to generate classroom based attendance to 50 percent if the student is a special part-time student enrolled in a community college under specific provisions, or the student is in grades 11 or 12 and is also enrolled part-time in classes at the California State University or the University of California campuses. For students that are enrolled at a charter ECHS and not enrolled in courses of a California State University, a University of California, or as special part time students at a community college under specified provisions, EC Section 46146.5 reduces the minimum 80 percent instructional time scheduling requirement to 67 percent in order to generate classroom based attendance. 

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. The ECHS follows the same process as traditional schools for the Application for a CDS code. 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. For assistance with the process for numbering a charter school, please visit Charter Submission Package for a Charter Number or contact the Charter Schools Division by e-mail at Charters@cde.ca.gov or by phone at 916-322-6029.

Questions: Carolyn Hamilton | chamilton@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-5765 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, August 27, 2019