A different type of leader: Characteristics of Effective Middle College and Early College Principals

Date of Completion

January 2011


Education, Leadership|Education, Administration




No Child Left Behind legislation continues to hold schools accountable for demonstrating improved graduation rates. Educational leaders and policy makers are looking to alternative high school models to reform education and increase student success. The Middle College and Early College High School models offer significant increases in underrepresented students graduating with a high school diploma as well as college credits. ^ The meta-analysis of Waters, T., Marzano, R., and McNulty, B. (2003) identified leadership characteristics associated with successful traditional high school principals that increase student achievement. This literature provides a foundation for this qualitative analysis. Eight middle/early college high school principals and ten host college stake holders who are well acquainted with these principal's work were included in this study. Findings of this study include four personal leadership characteristics of effective middle/early college high school principals: they advocate for good teaching, they empower others, they are committed to the Middle College/Early College High School Models, and they are relationship driven. ^ Recommendations are made on the implications for policy makers, educational leaders and college preparation programs to train future administrators in these models to develop the characteristics necessary to be effective principals. ^ Keywords: alternative education, high school principal leadership, middle college, early college ^