The n c learn and earn early college initiative
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The N.C. Learn and Earn Early College Initiative. J.B. Buxton, The Education Innovations Group ADP Network State Leadership Meeting September 10, 2009. NORTH CAROLINA’S GOALS. Address workforce competitiveness issues

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The n c learn and earn early college initiative

The N.C. Learn and Earn Early College Initiative

J.B. Buxton, The Education Innovations Group

ADP Network State Leadership Meeting

September 10, 2009

North carolina s goals


  • Address workforce competitiveness issues

  • Dramatically increase percentage of young people completing high school and college

  • Offer new high school pathway with a college and career focus

  • Change the high school to college/career “delivery system”

Early college in nc background and timeline

EARLY COLLEGE IN NC Background and Timeline


  • Major economic dislocation and transition

  • College-going rate 65%, but HS grad rate 60%


  • Launched high school innovation agenda with Gates Foundation support. Started with economic development-themed redesigned schools

  • Launched Learn and Earn early colleges in 5 sites


  • Total of 69 Learn and Earn sites now in operation

  • Launched Learn and Earn Online (“every high school a satellite college”) to offer free college-credit courses


The n c learn and earn early college initiative

  • Early college campus sites

  • 60 community colleges

  • 4 universities

  • 4 virtual sites

  • 1 private college

Learn and earn sites


  • Approved by NC State Board of Education

  • Partnership between district and IHE partner

  • Accountable to local board of education

  • Autonomous HS of choice located on college campus

  • Course of study leads to HS diploma and AA or 2 years of transferable university credit in 4-5 years

  • Work-based learning experiences

  • Targeted student population (first generation, low-income)

  • Same HS accountability and graduation requirements

Budget basics


  • $40K per site for planning year

  • Roughly $320K per site annually

    • Positions: principal, IHE liaison, counselor, work-based experiences coordinator

    • School support: coaching, teacher and principal professional development, small amount of local cash

  • District provides teachers from state and local funding allotments

  • Tuition-free: funding for community colleges part of their FTEs; budget for university courses built into budget

School development partner the nc new schools project


  • Initiative of the Governor’s Office and the Education Cabinet

  • Launched with support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Independent, non-profit organization

  • Collaboration with State Board of Education/Department of Public Instruction, Higher Education, Business and Philanthropic Groups

  • 5 state-funded positions “detailed” from state department to NCNSP to administer Learn and Earn sites.

  • Lead on all professional development, coaching

Results to date


  • The 9th grade promotion rate was 96% in 2007-08, compared to 82% for all NC high schools.

  • Early colleges’ combined dropout rate was less than 1% in 2007-08, compared to a statewide dropout rate of 4.97%.

  • The dropout rate for 9th graders in Learn and Earn schools in 2007-08 was 0.35 percent, compared to 5.5 percent for all high schools statewide. 79% reported zero 9th grade dropouts.

  • Of the 34 schools for which discipline data is available, 29 had fewer short-term suspensions than their comparison schools.

Student achievement


  • 59% of Learn and Earn early college high schools met Expected Growth targets in the ABCs system in 2008-09, compared to 61% of high schools statewide.

  • 29% had High Growth in 2008-09, compared to 28% of all high schools statewide.

  • 86% outperformed comparison high schools in their school districts

  • Of the 58 schools in 2008-09 subject to AYP under No Child Left Behind, 97% (56 schools) met the goals for student performance.

Key lessons from nc


  • Drive agenda with executive/legislative leadership. Gubernatorial priority brings K-12, IHE, business, and legislative engagement. Creates state-wide agenda and holds stakeholder feet to the fire.

  • Develop external partners. Ensure focus, innovation, and stability through leadership transitions. In NC, responsibility for program approval and implementation in state agency, but personnel detailed to nonprofit (NSP) for support and administration.

  • Fund models and provide deep support. Invest in developed models and provide ongoing support through teacher and principal prof. dev’t, coaching, schools visits.

Key lessons from nc1


  • Spur innovation. In NC, legislation (S656) provides schools with charter-like status and the SBE and IHE boards with waiver authority to support innovation.

  • Require local skin in the game. District fiscal involvement promotes sustainability and priority.

  • Align strategy. Align key state-level efforts (e.g., school turnaround effort) with best practices and new pathways approach.

Issues to consider


  • How to reach the tipping point? Moving all districts to multiple pathways/options for high school.

  • How to engage students and parents to spur demand?

  • Are adjustments to HS accountability system needed? Don’t strangle innovation.

  • How to bring IHEs to the table and keep them there?

  • How to provide needed web of services (coaching, teacher and principal PD, school visits)?

  • What does your data show about need for pathways? Data will facilitate local districts and legislative buy-in.

Learn and earn online


  • Free online college credit courses

  • 44 community college and the UNC system (through the iSchool) offer courses

  • Available at all high schools

  • Initiative housed with NC Virtual Public School for alignment

  • Enrollment up to more than 5,400 in 2009, compared with about 1,400 in 2007



  • Website for parents, students and educators:

The n c learn and earn early college initiative

Design Principles Define Schools

Where All Students Graduate

Ready for College, Careers and Life

Redefined professionalism

Powerful teaching and learning

Ready for college


Purposeful design

The n c learn and earn early college initiative

Integrated SystemOf School Support Services (IS4)


Peer network of schools

  • District leaders

Schools implement Design Principles to achieve strong student outcomes

  • Principals

Ongoing staff support

Teaching For Results

  • Teachers

Web-based resources

Leadership Institute

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