Early College High Schools (ECHS) use a transformative intervention model of bringing college into high school by simultaneously offering first generation students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and a college-level credential and/or degree. Programming includes meaningful work-based learning experiences that align with dynamic sectors of New Mexico’s economy, and a structured Career and Technical Education (CTE) sequence that leads to credentials recognized by business and industry.
These high schools are tuition free, and expose all ECHS students to rigorous academics and CTE coursework with the use of Career Clusters, related pathways and recommended programs of study. They focus on low-income youth, first-generation college-goers, English Language Learners, ethnically diverse students, and other young people underrepresented in higher education. They also establish formalized partnerships with colleges and community partners that foster shared responsibility for student success.
Characteristics of ECHS
Some defining characteristics of early college high schools:
- Small size – typically 100 students per grade level
- Responsible growth – typically opens with ninth grade and takes 4 years to reach full capacity
- Close proximity to the partner postsecondary – often on their campus
- Block scheduling – allows for acceleration of the graduation requirements so upperclassman can take college courses
- Limited high school electives – most elective credits are earned through dual credit coursework
- Application process for ECHS designation with NMPED
Local Success Schools
Various districts and schools throughout New Mexico have engaged in the early college high school model. The following schools have been awarded Early College High School Designation Status from NMPED. Our goal is to see the number designations increase every year. Please visit the ECHS Resource Center website for a full list of schools currently working towards designation status.
NMPED Designated Early College High Schools:
Bond Wilson Technical Center
Carlsbad Early College High School
Early College Academy – Albuquerque
Los Alamos Early College and Career Academy
Ruidoso Early College Academy
ECHS Resource Center
The Early College High School Resource Center was designed to assist schools and administrations in the process of becoming an early college high school. The website offers valuable resources such as webinars and podcasts, with information geared toward educators, families and students. It also highlights valuable research findings and reports on how and why these types of schools work. We encourage you to utilize this supportive tool during your process of becoming an early college high school, while staying up-to-date with our ECHS Education Administrators.