Since 2002, NCREST has served as a research partner of the 25-year old Middle College National Consortium (MCNC), a network of high schools across the nation, situated on community college campuses. NCREST has documented the design, development, and operation of the Consortium’s Early College High School Initiative to provide information that is used to strengthen its design and implementation. The NCREST Early College Team’s commitment-- and privilege-- has been to support MCNC’s efforts to develop strong, effective Middle-Early College High Schools. NCREST also regularly provides technical assistance workshops that help member schools to understand and reflect on the data collected on their students’ experiences and outcomes.

About the partner organization

The MCNC schools are designed to provide under-performing youth with access to college. Their member Middle College-Early College High Schools (MC-ECs) blur the border between high school and college to create “blended institutions” offering students a chance to begin college work while still in high school. Taking a mixture of high school and college courses, students strive to earn a high school diploma and substantial numbers of college credits. Some students even earn an associate’s degree on graduation from high school. Students are intensively supported and guided as they experience themselves as successful college-level learners. This association supports MC-EC schools in implementing six design principles that lay the foundation for an excellent education leading to postsecondary success. The schools are committed to working with students who have not traditionally thought of themselves as “college material,” and involve families and communities in the process. 

Key activities

Over the years, NCREST has engaged in many different projects in partnership with the MCNC. For example, NCREST has:

  • Collected and analyzed college transcript data to learn about students’ enrollment and performance in college classes.
  • Conducted online surveys of graduating students to better understand their academic and social needs, attitudes, and progress toward college readiness.
  • Analyzed the extent to which subgroups of students were well served by MC-ECs including by race/ethnicity, gender, and prior academic achievement (8th grade proficiency levels).
  • Mined National Student Clearinghouse data to learn whether and where students were attending college after graduation from MC-ECs.
  • Administered an annual online MCNC school survey and compiled a data report on school features and student demographics.
  • Led workshops and conference sessions in which participants learned to understand, use (and come to love) data, focusing on ways to improve student experiences and outcomes.
  • Conducted numerous short term research and development projects including: the Math/Data Use Project, support for the Transitions Project, analysis of seminar, analysis of the school review process (Critical Friends Review), and others.
  • Written briefs, reports, summaries of current research, and newsletter articles.