Practices utilized in selected Texas early college high schools to promote academic success : a student viewpoint
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Early college high schools are programs created by collaborations between secondary public education and institutions of higher education to address the challenge of increasing the number of traditionally underserved students (i.e. minorities, low socioeconomic status, and first generation to college) in institutions of higher education. Students in early college high schools are able to graduate from the school with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, or 60 hours of transferrable college credit (Jobs for the Future, 2007). The institutional strategies utilized in these collaborative initiatives that pursue, as a main goal, promotion of high school and higher education, student retention and success should be investigated so that other educational settings may adopt these practices to further enhance educational opportunities for all students. A more in-depth understanding of how early college high schools contribute to the success of students who are traditionally underserved in the United States education system is needed. It is imperative to identify specific, evidence based, effective institutional strategies that early college high schools utilize that contribute to student success and retention in order to determine common trends and practices that are utilized by these institutions based on evidence from the available data. This study utilized a mixed methods design, using both quantitative and qualitative research methods, to determine which effective retention and success strategies are common to selected Texas early college high schools. Quantitative analysis was used to determine if there is a statistically significant difference between the selected early college high schools and other traditional high schools within their districts regarding academic achievement on state assessments, retention, and college course completion rates. The qualitative analysis aspect of the study was implemented through the use of anonymous surveys administered to students, student focus groups, and reviews of institutional documents of selected early college high schools. This qualitative data was analyzed to determine the common strategies and practices that are utilized to promote retention, academic achievement on state assessments, and college course completion rates on the selected campuses.