ERIC Identifier: ED412862
Publication Date: 1997-00-00
Author: Fenske, Robert H. - Geranios, Christine A. - Keller, Jonathan
E. - Moore, David E.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education
Washington DC.| George Washington Univ. Washington DC. Graduate
School of Education and Human Development.
Early Intervention Programs: Opening the Door to Higher
Education. ERIC Digest.
The growth of early intervention programs reflects America's commitment to
high levels of educational attainment for all citizens. This commitment is
embodied in the national ideal of equal educational opportunity without regard
to social or economic status. Early intervention programs offer new hope to
youth who are disproportionately "at risk" of inadequate educational attainment
by providing financial assistance and encouragement to them, their families, and
their communities. An important goal of early intervention is to facilitate a
seamless transition from elementary to secondary to higher education. To reach
this goal, educators at all levels must develop and implement coordinated
policies and planning strategies. Early intervention is aided by funds from
federal agencies, state agencies, local governments, and philanthropic
WHAT IS EARLY INTERVENTION?
The number and diversity of
programs providing services and resources to encourage low-income/minority youth
to finish high school and enter college have been burgeoning since the early
1980s. The mission statement of the National Early Intervention Scholarship and
Partnership program is a unifying concept for early intervention. The federal
law encourages provision of financial assistance to low-income students to
obtain high school diplomas and to foster the pursuit of higher education. The
law also encourages states, local education agencies, community organizations,
and private entities to provide a variety of information and support services
for elementary, middle, and secondary students at risk of dropping out. These
public and private agencies provide services, including mentoring, tutoring, and
information, to help low-income and minority students obtain high school
diplomas and seek admission to college. Many such programs attempt to eliminate
the financial barriers to higher education by guaranteeing needed financial
assistance for at-risk students if they graduate from high school and meet other
criteria. The underlying assumption is that intervention early in the
educational pipeline will help to prevent dropouts and increase the number of
students who pursue higher education.
"Academic outreach" programs that originate in schools, colleges, and
universities are a subset of the broader concept of early intervention. Academic
outreach programs are differentiated from early intervention programs in that
academic outreach programs are operated by academic institutions (although the
source of funds and sponsor of the programs might be outside the institution).
Although the distinctions between academic outreach and early intervention
programs are imprecise, this distinction helps to identify the types of
institutionally operated programs that can be directly affected by institutional
faculty and administrators.
Academic outreach programs are similar in purpose to early intervention
programs but are not always articulated or coordinated with them. The general
purpose of most academic outreach programs is to encourage at-risk students to
plan for college, with no focus on specific academic disciplines. Some academic
outreach programs, however, focus on preparation and recruitment of promising
at-risk students for selected academic disciplines. Academic outreach includes
generally enhancing educational opportunity for underserved students within an
institution's service area as well as increasing the number of at-risk students
enrolled in specific academic disciplines. Thus, these programs are mutually
beneficial to both underserved students and institutions of higher education.
A third type of approach to early intervention is the rapidly growing
school-college collaboration movement, which involves systemic changes triggered
by the reforms beginning in the early 1980s that attempt to close the
traditional gap between K-12 and higher education. A new perspective, K-16,
began to emerge in the 1980s in discussions of educational accountability. Early
intervention programs that are built upon the collaborative efforts of K-12 and
higher education institutions have gained momentum toward K-16 alliances. One of
the most promising examples of such collaboration is the concept of "middle
college," which melds the last two years of high school with the two years
offered in public community colleges. Such alliances enhance the recruitment of
minority students and increase the readiness of entering freshmen.
WHAT TYPES OF EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED?
Basically, early intervention programs take six forms:
programs established by philanthropic agencies, federally supported programs,
state-sponsored programs with matching federal support, entirely state-supported
programs, systemic changes involving school-college collaboration, and college-
or university-sponsored programs. In certain cases, programs began with private
seed money from philanthropic organizations and later evolved into publicly
sponsored programs. The many early intervention/academic outreach programs are
varied and uncoordinated, and there is no national clearinghouse or database
that tracks the growth of local, state, or federal programs.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE GROWTH OF EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAMS FOR COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATORS?
programs provide colleges and universities with a powerful tool to recruit
disadvantaged students who need a broad base of support to enroll in and then
graduate from college. By forming strong coalitions with schools and community
leaders to collaborate in the development of innovative services and methods of
delivery, higher education administrators can contribute to and capitalize on
the wealth of offerings. Specifically, they can leverage institutional early
intervention efforts by surveying the federal, state, regional, and local
programs that can directly affect their institution, and by developing
strategies and structures to coordinate institutional outreach programs with the
multitude of early intervention programs that originate in both the public and
private sectors. These developments can help overcome duplicative efforts and
gaps in service caused by the current lack of coordination between institutions
Faculty members and administrators of colleges and universities recognize the
importance of support from the public, from elected officials, and from
philanthropic organizations, made evident in the recent trend toward the
development of state "report cards" for higher education systems. One of the
most common components of report cards is the assessment of access to public
higher education, especially for underrepresented students. Institutions must
demonstrate increased access to their institutions and success in the retention
of diverse students. Colleges and universities must marshal and refine their
resources to achieve these outcomes. Many institutions rely on remedial
education to increase enrollments of students from underserved populations, but
in many states, governors, legislators, and governing boards have criticized the
need for postsecondary remedial education. Perhaps early intervention and
academic outreach programs will enhance students' readiness and diminish the
need for remedial education.
Chaney, Bradford, Laurie Lewis, and Elizabeth
Farris. 1995. Programs at Higher Education Institutions for Disadvantaged
Precollege Students. NCES 96-230. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing
Office. ED 391 437. 106 pp.
Haycock, Kati, and Nevin Brown. 1993. "Higher Education and the Schools: A
Call to Action and a Strategy for Change." Washington, D.C.: American
Association for Higher Education. ED 369 356. 12 pp. Levine, Arthur, and Jana
Nidiffer. 1996. Beating the Odds: How the Poor Get to College. San Francisco:
Mintz, Suzanne D. 1993. Sources: Diversity Initiatives in Higher Education.
Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education.
Policy Studies Associates. 1996. Learning to Collaborate: Lessons from
School-College Partnerships in the Excellence in Education Program. Miami: John
S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Wilbur, Franklin P., and Leo M. Lambert, eds. 1996.Linking America's Schools
and Colleges: Guide to Partnerships and National Directory. 2d ed. Washington,
D.C.: American Association for Higher Education.
This ERIC digest is based on a full-length report in the ASHE-ERIC Higher
Education Report series Volume 25, Number 6, Early Intervention Programs:
Opening the Door to Higher Education Robert H. Fenske, Christine A. Geranios,
Jonathan E. Keller, and David E. Moore.