While early college high schools (ECHS) are new to Mississippi, they are quite widespread in some states with strong community college systems.

Project Aim

Phoenix Community Development Foundation, Inc., proposes to develop an early college education delivery model located in Natchez-Adams District 130 in partnership with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.  The concept includes the expansion of a seamless educational pathway to College for Natchez-Adams students through a campus based comprehensive student learning system.  The delivery model is known as an Early College Charter School (ECCS) and includes a full-time, two-year dual credit program component at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.


While early college high schools (ECHS) are new to Mississippi, they are quite widespread in some states with strong community college systems. North Carolina, for example, has over 60 ECHS (Edmunds, 2010). The purpose of ECHS is to prepare a student for college and ensure that students enter college ready. Students in the first two years take a college preparatory curriculum. In a study of two ECHS in North Carolina, Edmunds found that students’ progress through college preparatory courses, such as Algebra I, Algebra II, and English, at significantly higher rates than ninth graders in regular high schools. ECHS aim for academic rigor, use of learning methods – such as project-based learning – that provide greater relevance, and building of community within the student cohort to provide support (Ongoga, 2010). When implemented correctly, early college high schools can lead to significantly increased success on statewide proficiency examinations (Kaniuka and Vickers, 2010).


Our research indicates these positives: 


  • Early college models significantly increase post high school college participation.

  • Early college models significantly increase credit acquisition and, in some cases, certificate or degree completion for high school students, prior to graduation from high school.

  • Students who earn six or more college credits, while still in high school, earn higher GPAs in years 1-3 of college and persist longer when they continue participation in college post-graduation (Adelman, 2006; Karp, Calcagno, Hughes, Jeong, & Bailey, 2007).  Read more



The mission of Phoenix Early College Charter School is to provide area students who are underrepresented in higher education a supportive and integrated opportunity to complete a high school education while accruing post-secondary credits simultaneously. The mission includes ensuring that every student achieves 21st century college, technology, and career skills while completing their high school requirements and up to an associate degree of transferable college credit.

Phoenix Early College Charter School will target students who are underrepresented in higher education: low-income students, racial and ethnic minorities, English Language Learners, and first generation college goers. PECCS will provide all students, regardless of ethnic, cultural, language or socioeconomic status, with a four-year college immersion education which will allow them to develop their talents, fulfill their potentials, and excel in their selected areas of academic and economic life.

Phoenix Early College Charter School will serve children in grade nine in its first year and will increase one grade level each year through grade twelve in its fourth year. Enrollment in the first year will not exceed 75 students in three 25-student cohorts. Each cohort will be a group of students sharing common factors such as same grade, similar learning characteristics and/or similar academic/career paths. The use of such cohorts will allow PECCS to best facilitate the most appropriate and effective educational practices for each individual student.

The scheduling format of PECCS will be a hybrid Block 4 schedule that will allow students to take four one-hour-and-thirty-minute courses and one fifty-five minute course each day. This format gives students the opportunity to focus on four courses at a time instead of the generalized approach of seven or eight courses in a traditional block systems. Courses will provide a full year of academic credit completed in a single semester. This intensive structure will provide students with the opportunity to complete 16 credits in their first two years, providing great flexibility when entering their college courses.

Other programs in area public schools, such as Advanced Placement and traditional dual enrollment programs, allow advanced eleventh and twelfth grade students to earn some college credit while attending high school. But PECCS targets underserved populations and will provide students beginning at the ninth grade level with a more focused and rigorous curriculum, one structured to prepare them for success at the postsecondary level. Upon completion of the Early College Charter School program, all students will graduate with a Mississippi high school diploma, and not just some college credits, but an Associate’s degree, a college transcript for transfer to a four-year college to complete a Bachelors degree, and/or Technical Certificates for immediate access to a well-paid profession.