The role of early college high school in P-16 success: a case study of students’ perceptions of Mission Early College High School effectiveness

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Valdez, Melinda Martin

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The short existence of Early College High Schools has not allowed for considerable research to assess their operational effectiveness. Furthermore, the effectiveness perceptions and reactions of students enrolled at these schools have not been given ample opportunity to be studied – an integral component of any school’s operation. The purpose of the study is to focus on one specific ECHS while in its third year of existence to assess its operational effectiveness from the perspective of its students. The research methodology which was selected as appropriate for the study involves the use of qualitative research coupled with the case study method. In order to assess for reliable observations, currently enrolled students were interviewed to gain knowledge of their perception of the operational effectiveness at their early college high school. Additional qualitative data was utilized with an inductive analytic approach to provide for a detailed view of the school. Data was segmented into relevant parts to help identify emergent themes. The following themes emerged from the findings: attainable success; student roles and responsibilities; personalization; support to achieve higher-level work; highly qualified teachers; and engaging parents and community. The findings suggest that student perceptions reflect an effective school environment that enables them to meet the expectations of high school graduation and completion of up to two years of college credit. Moreover, the supplemental data collected provided evidence of effective school administration and instructional practices that foster the support and engagement of students to meet their needs as early college high school students. An objective study of an early college high school may assist its administrators to ascertain whether they are meeting the needs of their students. Future research concerning this topic may be able to utilize the results and conclusions of this study to further enrich the knowledge of effective early college high schools.



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