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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Lynn Beck

First Committee Member

Rachel Myer

Second Committee Member

Deanne Rivera

Third Committee Member

Antonio Serna

Fourth Committee Member

Tenisha Tevis


This dissertation explores factors that play a role in students' decisions to attend one Northern California Early College High School (NCECHS). It also examines how students perceive their experiences of their decision after they have enrolled. The history of the public education has long been marked by an achievement gap between White and Asian students and students from other ethnic groups. In spite of efforts to address this issue, the gap continues to widen. Early College High Schools (ECHS's) are examples of reform models that are developed to support student achievement among undeserved groups. Without an understanding of the factors that influence student decisions to attend ECHS's and an understanding of the ways students perceive their experiences in such schools; administrators and teachers in these schools are left to more or less "guess" at the most effective ways to structure curriculum and instruction. A qualitative analysis was used to explore student perception and experiences. A survey asked students to share the primary factors that influenced their decision to attend NCECHS, instead of a traditional public school. Findings from this research suggest that the participant's perceived costs and benefits were based on both personal preferences and rational choices. Some aspects of the program that were especially pleasing to students included having the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, earn college credit and earn an associate's degree at the same time. Many students expressed dissatisfaction and anxiety with attending this ECHS. Frustration with the college enrollment process, prerequisites, heavy workloads, time management, fear of academic failure, relationships with instructors and disassociation from friends were also among the findings of this study.





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