Program Areas | P-12 Education

Bard High School Early College: Evaluation of an Innovative Educational Model

Students discuss the subject of justice at Bard High School Early College. Metis is conducting a quantitative study of this innovative high school model.

In a July 2009 speech to the NAACP, President Barack Obama held up Bard High School Early College (BHSEC) as an example of reform that is badly needed to prepare students for the 21st century. Bard College opened the first of its high schools, in conjunction with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), in Manhattan in 2001. Its aim was to show that high school students were capable of the type of rigorous thinking that is demanded in college and could reach their highest levels of academic potential if exposed to an engaging liberal arts program at a younger age. The first school has been joined by others in Queens and Newark, New Jersey.

Bard students complete two years of high school and take required state exams, after which they begin to take seminar-style college liberal arts courses. The Bard curriculum allows students to earn both a high school diploma and a two-year associate's degree in four years. As the schools have grown, Bard has taken an interest in replicating the model. To demonstrate the model's value, Bard has embarked on an effort to measure its success through a quantitative evaluation.

With a grant from the Booth Ferris Foundation, BHSEC engaged Metis to conduct a three-year study, beginning in 2011, to examine outcomes for the classes of 2010, 2012, and 2013. Through rigorous propensity score matching procedures, and using data from the NYCDOE and National Student Clearinghouse Database, Metis is comparing the performance of Bard students to that of students who had similar academic and demographic profiles when they entered other high schools. Outcomes to be examined include high school credit accumulation, graduation from high school within four years, college admission and persistence, and post-graduate activities. With the support of Bard's internal evaluation staff, Metis is helping to manage data collection and analysis in ways that will answer questions from funders, policy makers, and those looking to replicate the program.