DPS is helping more students across Denver earn free college credit while they’re still in high school with the announcement of five more early college designated high schools.
“The Early College model is a game changer for our school district, but most importantly for our students and their families. The strategic approach we are taking will ensure as many as 3,700 students have an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree or 60 college credits when they graduate from high school at no charge to our students or families. These students will also have an opportunity to earn an industry certificate,” said Antonio Esquibel, DPS Executive Director of Early College.
The innovative design of the early college program allows students to be immersed in a college-going culture through partnerships with local colleges and universities, with the comfort and support of the DPS high school environment.
As one of the national leaders in the movement to increase college access to all students, DPS has made significant strides to create an inclusive environment in which every child succeeds. One of the five goals in the district’s strategic plan — the Denver Plan 2020 — is to ensure students graduate ready for college and career through rigorous coursework and high standards. Early college is a proven strategy for postsecondary success, as Jobs For The Future reports early college students are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college and complete a college degree at higher rates.
Employment projections state that 74% of all Colorado jobs – more than 3 million jobs – will require education beyond high school by the year 2020, whether that’s an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, certificate or an apprenticeship. Early College was developed with the most underrepresented students in higher education in mind — first-generation college students, low-income students, students of color and English learners — to provide an intentional pathway toward a college degree for all students.
“We want to make sure all DPS students have access to the college experience,” said Suzanne Morris-Sherer, Instructional Superintendent. “Many of our families come from impoverished backgrounds, and while parents want their children to earn a college degree, it can be cost prohibitive. That’s why this model is so important — it gives students access to free college.”
The DPS early college program is funded through mill levy dollars and per-pupil revenue, so there is no personal cost to DPS students and their families.
Students can begin taking early college courses as early as ninth grade. The state-designated model allows students to remain enrolled in their high school beyond four years (until the age of 21) and continue taking college classes.
“Early College high schools provide the opportunity to accelerate student learning and student access to post-secondary options while still enrolled in high school,” said Tara Schneider, DPS Early College Manager.
Any DPS student can choose to attend an early college through the SchoolChoice program.