Opening an Early College High School: A Personal and Professional Journey of Theory into Practice through Shared Stories




Rentfro, Roni C. 1957-

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The purpose of the study was to chronicle the beginnings of a South Texas Early College High School from theoretical, professional, and personal perspectives and to share stories and perspectives from a number of its participants. The Early College High School Initiative has attracted a great deal of attention due to preliminary indications of how significantly it can impact the college readiness of at-risk and underrepresented youth. These high school-college partnerships provide acceleration to college-readiness for primarily minority, low socio-economic students who are often the first in their immediate families to achieve a college degree (Berger, Adelman & Cole, 2010; Edmunds, Dallas, Bernstein, Glennie, Willse & Arshavsky, 2010).

The study involved the telling of stories via the narrative inquiry (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990) research methodology. The approach allowed for the sharing of personal and professional experiences in opening an Early College High School with the inclusion of the perspectives of alumni of the school. The work necessarily involved the theory-practice-policy relationship. The mode of inquiry allowed the research questions to develop as the study progressed while sharing the reflections and analysis of the stories of the researcher and participants (Craig, 2003). As a result of the use of Cheryl Craig’s story constellations approach, a story constellations figure (Craig, 2007b) was created to illustrate the “multiple contexts within which it [the knowledge] is created” (p. 178).

The reflections and findings of this study were shared to attempt to clarify some of the multiple challenges of converting theoretical knowledge in the acceleration of at-risk, Hispanic, students from low socio-economic homes to college-readiness, provide insight into the complexity of such transitions, and to hearten those who contemplate such journeys by sharing stories from alumni about the impact on their lives to date.



Narrative inquiry, Early college high schools, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), School programs, Secondary education, At-risk students, College readiness, Dual enrollment