Early College Initiative


The CUNY Early College Initiative (ECI) reforms the educational experiences of high school students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education by providing these students with the opportunity to earn up to two years of college credit, or an Associate degree, at a partnering CUNY college. The initiative sets precedent as the largest concentration of Early College high schools in an urban setting in the United States; as of 2017, the network has developed 17 schools and serves over 8,000 students. ECI schools are categorized into three structural models: grade 6-12 schools; grade 9-12/ 9-13 schools; and grade 9-14 schools. The 9-14 school model has received nationwide recognition, as it establishes a collaborative partnership between these schools and recognizable industry stakeholders (e.g. IBM) in an effort to provide purposeful career and technology education to students. By implementing an integrated curriculum and offering support services in all its schools, ECI strives to cultivate a college-going culture across the network and equip students with the skills necessary for success in higher education.

REPS supports the CUNY ECI program by providing data management and evaluation services. REPS maintains a database of ECI students’ demographic information, high school enrollment status, and college course enrollment and performance; constructs data collection tools and program report templates; and prepares stakeholder program briefs. The evaluation agenda is geared towards (1) providing a descriptive overview of school demographics and outcomes, and (2) producing actionable insights for program improvement. REPS also conducts longitudinal research studies to assess program impact on secondary and postsecondary outcomes using propensity score matching to compare outcomes among ECI and comparable NYCDOE students.

Research Questions

  1. What secondary and postsecondary educational outcomes are associated with CUNY ECI enrollment as compared to similar students enrolled in non-CUNY ECI New York City public high schools? Do outcomes vary across students’ race/ethnicity and proficiency level upon entering ninth grade?
  2. Reflecting on their ECI high school coursework and experiences, what do seniors in the network think about their school’s impact on academic preparation, and college and career readiness?



The CUNY ECI program targets students who are underrepresented in higher education; during the 2016-2017 academic year, over 70% of students identified as Black or Hispanic, more than half identified as male, and nearly 42% had Title I support, a proxy for low-income status. Based on preliminary findings on the 2016 graduating cohort of ECI students, most students graduate within four years and completed at least one college course while in high school (92% and 95%, respectively). On average, students earned about 30 credits, which amounts to completing one year of credits toward an Associate degree. Upon graduating from ECI, 81% of students enrolled in college within 6 months.

Source: The City University of New York