Examining the Relationships and Differences of Early College High School Models

Examining the Relationships and Differences of Early College High School Models

Briana Hagelgans (Texas A&M University-San Antonio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4108-1.ch003
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Abstract

This study examined the impact of the early college model on first-year academic performance. The researcher surveyed students from a small-sized university who graduated high school between 2015-2018, lived off-campus, and were over the age of 18. The study found a moderate positive relationship, which was significant, between academic performance at the end of the early college program and students' academic performance at the end of the first year in college. However, the study did not find a significant difference in academic performance among the different early college models and did not find a significant difference between the academic performance of students who graduated from an early college program and those who did not. The results led the researcher to recommend further research that explore the difference between the different models of early college.
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Introduction

According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) (2017), students at-risk of not attending college made up about 59% of overall enrollment within Texas public schools. This number has been on the rise since 1988 and has attracted interest for high school reform within the state of Texas and throughout the nation (Texas Education Agency, 2003; Texas Education Agency, 2017; Thompson & Ongaga, 2011). As public schools across the nation struggle to develop meaningful strategies to serve this ever-increasing population of students, one particular initiative has gained traction merging high schools with a higher educational institution to accelerate the high school to college completion pathway (Pretlow & Wathington, 2014). While public schools have faced significant budget cuts across the country for the last ten years, administrators have been left searching for alternative forms of funding to address the needs of this population (Department of Higher Education, 2018). Large organizations responded with public and private funding fueling the implementation of the Early College High School model that focused on creating a clear pathway into higher education institutions (Royster, Gross, & Hochbein, 2015). These corporations awarded a total of $120 million to schools that implemented this high school model (Kisker, 2006). From 2002-2009, three school districts joined this partnership to help a total of 7,500 students from low-income backgrounds, and other groups underrepresented in higher education, earn college credit and matriculate into four-year universities (Hooker, 2018). Every year since its inception, the early college high school (ECHS) initiative proliferated, totaling more than 200 schools nationwide in the Fall of 2009 (Berger et al., 2010; Royster et al., 2015).

Within the state of Texas, the number of early college high schools have multiplied, totaling 198 schools in 2017 (Texas Education Agency, 2017). Texas has overseen the vast growth of ECHS by requiring every high school interested to seek an official designation through the TEA (Giani, Alexander, Reyes, 2014). The designation process assisted in creating alignment among the 198 designated ECHS programs throughout the state of Texas (Texas Education Agency, 2017). While admission criteria and the student selection of students vary between each ECHS, the designation process has encouraged applicants to select a primary operational model, while providing each school the freedom to incorporate a variety of support systems (Frank, 2013). There are three fundamental ECHS models in which districts can choose to perform: a stand-alone model, school within a school model, or operate on a college campus (Texas Education Agency, 2017). Stand-alone campuses are a part of a larger school district but operate independently separate from the traditional high school (Fowler, 2009). A school within a school ECHS model operates within the confines of the traditional high school and adopts a cohort of students within the larger population that are following a prescribed early college pathway (Edmunds et al., 2010). Those ECHS programs that operate on a college campus are similar to the stand-alone model, but the location is within their partners’ higher education campus. While these models help guide how an ECHS performs, there is limited research on the educational benefit that extends beyond completion of the early college program from each model.

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