Perspectives Contributing to Early College High School Students’ Persistence
The Early College High School (ECHS) is an initiative sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to increase the number of under- represented populations in higher education by allowing students to earn an Associate’s degree or up to two years of college credit by the time they graduate from high school. A previous qualitative study examined transition experiences of students in their senior year. The current study was conducted at a large Midwestern ECHS where students take one to three college classes during their first two years of high school (freshman and sophomore years) and full college course loads during their last two years (junior and senior years) of high school. The transition between the sophomore and junior year is the most difficult for many of the students. Therefore, there is a need to understand persistence of these students beyond the sophomore year and through to graduation. The authors developed the Q sample based upon the aforementioned qualitative study. Statements from within the six categories that emerged from that study were used to balance the Q sample. The purpose of this study is to investigate ECHS students’ views of their high school experience with the goal of determining which perspectives lead to persistence between the students’ sophomore and junior years and what views best represent “college-ready” beyond typical academic criteria, such as ACT scores, for this and other similar programs. Further planned research will both present longitudinal findings following from this initial study and seek to replicate the perspectives found here. For this study, 42 students that were at the rank of high school sophomore and junior at the end of the 2011– 2012 academic year sorted 51 statements that pertained to their experiences and perspectives of being an ECHS student. The study found two factors: “College Ready” and “Academically Immature.” Implications of these results are discussed.