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Early College High School: Closing the Latino Achievement Gap

  • Author(s): Beall, Kristen Ann
  • Advisor(s): Christie, Christina A
  • et al.
Abstract

Early College High School:

Closing the Latino Achievement Gap

by

Kristen Ann Beall

Doctor of Education

University of California, Los Angeles, 2016

Professor Christina A. Christie, Chair

The population of United States Latino students is growing at a rapid rate but their academic achievement lags behind white and Asian students. This issue has significant consequences for the nation’s economy, as the job market continues to demand more education and better skills. Early College High School programs have the potential to improve educational outcomes for underserved students by combining comprehensive high school curricula with supported postsecondary dual enrollment opportunities.

Through a combination of student focus groups, staff interviews, observations, and document review, this qualitative study explored how secondary and postsecondary institutions can work together to create comprehensive dual enrollment programs that lead to increased academic achievement for Latino students. The study relied on the social cognitive career framework and Early College High School programs’ theory of change to identify critical cultural and structural supports that resonate specifically with Latino students. The research focused on 12th grade Latino students and staff at two Early College High Schools in Central California.

Findings revealed that Early College High School programs embrace a robust core curriculum, serving to remediate academic skills while also preparing students for rigorous postsecondary coursework. Programmatic structures collaboratively respond to student needs while providing supported postsecondary experiences, encouraging improved self-efficacy, changed outcome expectations, and expanded personal goals. Multilayered teacher supports also resonate with Latino students in Early College High School programs, as illustrated by program-wide college-going cultures that include high expectations and trusted relationships. Finally, Early College High Schools support highly enculturated families fostering increased levels of college knowledge and engagement. The findings show that Early College High School programs can offer Latino students a pathway for postsecondary access and improved levels of academic achievement.

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