Collaborative partnerships and best practices for leading early college high schools: A collective case study analysis of the experiences and perceptions of community college presidents and early college high school principals



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The purpose of this qualitative collective case study is to explore collaborative partnerships and best practices for leading early college high schools. Early college high school programs are an innovative model designed to bridge the gaps between high school and college transitions, particularly for underrepresented populations. The early college high school model holds great promise, but also poses many questions. While the implementation of early college high school partnerships is growing, relatively little is known about the leadership skills and competencies that are a critical skill in order for an early college high school to be developed and sustained This study was conducted at five urban community colleges located in North Texas, all of which have established an early college high school partnership with a local independent school district. Data collection consisted of the lens of the researcher, semi-structured interviews, field notes, and reflexive journaling, as well as the collection of documents and reports to provide context to the topic. Data analysis was conducted through the use of the constant-comparative method, and open and axial coding. Data analysis involved interpretation of the findings, during which the findings were presented in a descriptive manner that conveys the multiple perspectives of the participants and detailed descriptions of the settings. The trustworthiness of this study was ensured through the use of appropriate qualitative strategies.
The overall findings of this study support that the participants perceive that the early college high school is a unique, commendable, initiative that requires a great deal of cross-organizational communication, resource allocation, and championing on the part of each institution’s leadership team. Their perceptions were supported through their experiences as champions and supporters of the early college high school program on their campus, and their involvement with the development of the early college high school partnership and program. The findings of this study also revealed that early college high school principals and community college presidents engage in a number of collaborative practices to support successful leadership of the early college high school.
The results of the study provide best practices to community colleges in the understanding of how early college high school principals and college presidents from partnering institutions work together to support the purpose, success and outcomes of an early college high school. Recommendations for higher education practice emerged as a result of this study. These recommendations include: a need for early college high school programs to allocate time and resources to support the development of networks that encourage professional development opportunities and collaboration between all stakeholders within its early college high school program and other existing early college high school programs; a need for promotion of cross-organizational collaboration and communication by establishing opportunities for all faculty, staff, students and the community to meet regularly, share ideas and concerns, and work collaboratively to address issues and create solutions; and the recommendation that early college high school partners regularly review, assess, and revise the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to address concerns and opportunities that arise as the early college high school program matures.



Early college high school