The Impact of Early College High Schools on Mathematics Teaching and Learning
Objectives: This paper will examine the impact of the Early College High School (ECHS) model on mathematics teaching and student mathematics performance in the 9^{th} through 11^{th} grade. The specific research questions are:
 What is the impact of the early college on students’ coursetaking and academic performance in mathematics in the 9^{th} through 11^{th} grade?
 What does mathematics teaching look like in the early college model?
Theoretical framework: Early College High Schools are small, innovative high schools that target students who are underrepresented in college, including students who are the first in their family to go to college and students who are lowincome or of minority status. Frequently located on college campuses, ECHS serve students in grades 912 or through a grade 13 or 5^{th} year. Students are expected to graduate within four to five years with a high school diploma and two years of transferable college credit. As implemented in North Carolina (where this study is being conducted), the schools are expected to implement a specific set of design principles which will be described in the full paper.
Methodology: This paper reports results from an IESfunded longitudinal experimental study of the impact and implementation of North Carolina’s model. Participating schools agreed to use a lottery to select students and the study is tracking outcomes for students randomly accepted into the program (treatment) and those not accepted who enrolled somewhere else (control).
In addition to quantitative data, the study collected qualitative data to describe implementation of the model. As part of site visits to schools, the data on certain instructional features were collected by both observations and interviews with teachers and students.
Sample: In this proposal, we include results from analyses completed to date on a sample of 1,317 9^{th} graders in 15 cohorts in 10 schools; 597 10^{th} graders in seven cohorts of students in five schools; and 252 11^{th} graders in 3 cohorts in two schools. We will have analyses for larger samples completed by the early fall of 2011. An initial analysis of background characteristics of the treatment and control groups found statistically significant differences in the percentage of 9^{th} graders previous retained and in their 8^{th} grade Algebra I pass rates. There were no statistically significant differences between the treatment and control groups in 10^{th} and 11^{th} grade.
Observations from 20 mathematics classrooms, as well as interviews with math teachers and students from 20 schools will be included in analyses.
Data sources: Students’ academic performance in mathematics are tracked through studentlevel data collected by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and housed at the North Carolina Education Research Data Center (NCERDC).
Analyses: For the quantitative analyses, we report the unadjusted means for each group—treatment and control—as well as adjusted impact estimates calculated using regression analyses that incorporate background characteristics and sitelevel indicators. For each course, we report two outcomes: the percentage of all students in the grade who have taken the course (takeup) and the percentage of all students in the grade who have taken the course and passed the test associated with the course (success).
For the qualitative analyses, we will describe the presence of the following instructional features in mathematics classroom:
 Engagement in higher order thinking
 Collaboration with other students and nature of that collaboration
 Engagement in “elaborated communication” (explaining thinking, writing, presentations, etc.)
 Evidence of formative assessment
Results: Table 2 shows the results for 9^{th} grade mathematics outcomes; Table 3 shows the results for 10^{th} grade mathematics outcomes; and Table 4 shows the results for 11^{th} grade mathematics outcomes. Results show that more 9^{th} and 10^{th} graders in ECHS than in control schools are taking and succeeding in the mathematics courses they need for college.
Table 2: Impact of Early College on Mathematics 9^{th} Grade Outcomes
Outcomes 
Unadjusted Means 
Adjusted Impact 

ECHS (N=739) 
Control (N=578) 
Estimate 
PValue 

Algebra I 
% Takeup 
93.8 
80.6 
9.7 
<0.001 

% Success 
79.9 
69.0 
5.5 
0.009 
College Prep. Math Courses 
%At least one courses takeup 
94.8 
82.0 
9.6 
<0.001 

% At least two courses takeup 
35.0 
26.0 
8.1 
<0.001 

% At least one courses success 
81.6 
70.3 
6.1 
0.002 

% At least two courses success 
29.5 
25.1 
3.6 
<0.012 
Table 3: Impact of Early College on Mathematics 10^{th} Grade Outcomes
Outcomes 
Unadjusted Means 
Adjusted Impact 

ECHS (N=399) 
Control (N=277) 
Estimate 
PValue 

Geometry 
% Takeup 
84.6 
66.9 
12.5 
<0.001* 

% Success 
70.5 
58.8 
4.9 
0.151 
Algebra II 
% Takeup 
53.6 
31.5 
12.4 
<0.001* 

% Success 
42.8 
27.9 
9.1 
0.005* 
College Prep. Math Courses 
%At least two courses takeup 
92.8 
67.6 
17.7 
<0.001* 

% At least three courses takeup 
45.3 
30.8 
7.2 
0.017* 

% At least two courses success 
72.8 
57.1 
6.0 
0.075 

% At least three courses success 
36.3 
27.9 
4.1 
0.2 
The data from 11^{th} grade show a more inconsistent impact on academic outcomes with positive results primarily for coursetaking and a possibly negative impact on success in math courses, which may be due to a smaller sample. The additional analyses will include larger sample of 11^{th} graders.
Table 4: Impact of Early College on Mathematics 11^{th} Grade Outcomes
Outcomes 
Unadjusted Means 
Adjusted Impact 

ECHS (N=124) 
Control (N=128) 
Estimate 
PValue 

Algebra II 
% Takeup 
86.3 
65.6 
17.7 
<0.001* 

% Success 
50.0 
58.6 
9.2 
0.087 
College Prep. Math Courses 
%At least two courses takeup 
92.7 
72.7 
17.3 
<0.001* 

% At least three courses takeup 
84.7 
64.8 
17.0 
<0.001* 

% At least two courses success 
62.9 
60.2 
2.3 
0.652 

% At least three courses success 
46.8 
52.3 
5.1 
0.33 
The preliminary analyses of student focus groups and classroom observations show that early college students spend a large portion of their time in mathematics classroom working on projects both collaboratively and individually. Students report that they collaborate with each other at a higher rate than in the regular school, they are engaged in rigorous thinking and extensive communication, and that they experience personalized support from their teachers that is based on teachers’ constant monitoring of students’ progress. The presentation will expand on these qualitative data.
Significance: This rigorous experimental study of the Early College High School model shows that the model is having a statistically significant and substantively important impact on student coursetaking and learning in mathematics. More 9^{th} and 10^{th} graders are taking and succeeding in math college preparatory courses, although the impact is not as clear in 11^{th} grade. The connections between teaching and learning are discussed.