Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Bruce Boyles


Early college high schools were developed as a partnership between school districts and colleges to provide students an opportunity to earn a high school diploma concurrently with an associate’s degree or transferable college credit at little or no cost. In 2011, North Carolina New Schools implemented the Rural Innovative Initiative with the purpose of expanding college readiness and reducing dropouts by applying early college design principles and strategies into 18 existing traditional high schools in low-wealth districts. The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility of implementation of early college principles and strategies into traditional high schools. The study included five traditional high schools that were a part of the Rural Innovative Initiative. The researcher used a mixed-methods approach to conduct this study. Quantitative data were collected including graduation rates, student growth rates, and end-of-course proficiency means for each of the five traditional high schools. Teachers were surveyed to analyze their perspectives of the early college principles. Qualitative data were collected from principal interview responses to a set of predetermined interview questions. The three research questions addressed changes in student achievement data, teacher perspectives of the early college design principles, and principal perspectives of implementation of early college strategies. Data indicated that the five high schools experienced an increase in graduation rates following implementation of the early college model. Four of the five high schools also had an increase in student growth. The survey and interview data from teachers and principals indicated that the early college design principles were implemented. Findings suggest that early college strategies and design principles can be implemented in traditional high schools as a reform model.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.