The Early College of Arvada is a free, public, charter school serving students in grades 6–12. Our students discover their sense of wonder, capacity for work, and potential for wisdom within a small, academically rigorous, and compassionate learning community. At no cost to the family, we partner with University of Colorado-Denver (CU-Succeed) to allow our students to earn up to 59 transferable college credits as they complete their high school diploma. ECA is committed to providing a pathway to higher education for students in Arvada, Westminster, and the greater Denver metro area.
The Early College of Arvada education program is guided by our aligned early college standards. Those standards are based on both the Colorado Academic Content Standards and Knowledge and Skills for University Success (KSUS) and will evaluate student success through their achievement on standardized exams, demonstrated college readiness through our portfolio process, and student success in college-level coursework. To assist us in achieving this goal, our school uses the assessment and diagnostic capabilities of the Northwest Education Association’s (NWEA) Measure of Academic Progress (MAPS) exam each fall and spring for grades 6-10 in order to monitor and measure progress.
The Early College of Arvada opened its doors in the fall of 2008 with a singular mission: to provide a rigorous and compassionate high school education which launches students into higher education. The ECA experience would prepare students for college by providing college.
Throughout its first years, ECA developed the key policies, programs and practices that would define the School. Key among them was its partnership with the University of Colorado Denver in assisting its student population with gaining access to obtaining college credits while concurrently progressing through the School’s high school curriculum. ECA aims to make higher education more accessible and attractive for traditionally at-risk students, eliminates the need for its students to take remedial courses at the college-level, exposes its students to a rigorous and relevant college-prep and college-level curriculum, and provides high levels of support and guidance to students to ease their transition through middle and high school and into higher education.
In 2010, the School added the middle school component serving the sixth through eighth grade population, and enrollment increased to 191 for grades six through 12. With the addition of the middle school, the School was renamed Early College of Arvada. In 2011, ECA graduated its first class of seniors of 15 students, 47% of which were first generation high school graduates and with an average of 38 college credits per student.
ECA continues to grow and develop as it strives to serve the students and families of Arvada, Denver, and Westminster.
History of The Early College Program
The Early College program was launched in 2002 as part of philanthropic efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The primary goal of the nationwide program was to increase the opportunity for underserved students to earn a post-secondary education. The hypothesis was that by engaging underrepresented and historically marginalized students in a rigorous high school curriculum with real college credit and excellent teaching, students would be more prepared academically and financially to continue a post-secondary career.
In the years since, the early college model has achieved sustained success throughout the country. Today, nearly 250 early college high schools serve students through rigorous academic standards and access to college courses and credit.