Jobs for the Future (JFF) and Greater Texas Foundation (GTF) released a new report that provides a national blueprint for successful development of early college programs that move large numbers of young people through high school to a bachelor’s degree, Addressing the 61st Hour Challenge: Collaborating in El Paso to Create Seamless Pathways from High School to College.

Texas has been at the forefront of the early college movement since early college—which integrates college courses with high school requirements, along with student supports—began more than a decade ago. Because of the many early colleges and the positive policy environment in Texas, more and more Texas students complete their associate’s degrees well before graduation from high school, often starting college with junior standing. As these students progressed, GTF became aware that some early college students were accumulating more than the 60 credits required for an associate’s degree. A 61st credit holds little to no advantage over the 60th credit and yet eats up students’ time and money. And often, students who transfer to a four-year institution lose any of the credits beyond the 60th in the move. The new report labels these challenges the 61st Hour® problem.

In efforts to resolve the 61st Hour issue, high school and higher education institutions in El Paso came together to implement a truly seamless system that creates an efficient path for students from 9th grade through the bachelor’s degree.

As noted by our President and CEO Dr. Wynn Rosser, “Early college graduates are earning college credits in high school that provide a major head start and can significantly accelerate time to degree at their four-year institutions. By forming close partnerships, El Paso has figured out a way to advance an already innovative model so students can go on to earn bachelor’s degrees and beyond.”

For more on this report, please see the full press release from JFF here.