Successful Collaborations between High Schools
and Community Colleges. ERIC Digest.
by Schuetz, Pam
With a "baby boom echo" fueling national growth in the number and diversity
of high school graduates, school systems and colleges are increasingly
pressed to work together to prepare students for the demands of higher
education and the labor force. Currently, over half of all high school
graduates enroll in a community college within one year of graduation (Palmer,
p. 94). High schools have different governance structures, organizational
cultures, and assessment standards than community colleges; lack of coordination
between these educational sectors impedes successful student transition
(Boswell, p. 5). The Fall 2000 volume of New Directions for Community Colleges
describes five types of collaborations that support more successful student
transitions: K-16 (kindergarten through baccalaureate) partnerships; dual
credit programs; tech prep programs; middle college high schools; and distance
State policy makers increasingly place a high priority on creating K-16
partnerships that align curricula, match student progression from one grade
level to the next through demonstrated mastery of specific skills or knowledge,
and coordinate testing requirements from elementary school through college
(Boswell, p. 3). These partnerships also may encourage development of inter-institutional
student services, such as new student orientations and professional development
for counselors (Watson, pp. 55-57). Maryland, Georgia and Ohio, among other
states, have developed significant statewide K-16 partnerships (Boswell,
Maryland has established six types of collaborations between schools
and higher education institutions: (1) professional development at all
levels; (2) fieldwork within and outside schools; (3) early intervention;
(4) continuing education and teacher training; (5) job training and tech
preparation; and, (6) distance learning. Maryland's K-16 initiative includes
recommendations regarding assessment, sequencing of curricula, and community
involvement. (Outcalt, p. 107; Boswell, p. 12).
Georgia's regional and local educational consortia link the otherwise
disparate educational bureaucracies of P-12 (preschool through 12th grade)
and postsecondary education by coordinating school boards, community members,
and legislative and business leaders. Georgia's P-16 initiative seeks to
improve student achievement at all levels, facilitate student transitions,
improve postsecondary access for minority and low-income students, and
focus teacher preparation and professional development programs on meeting
high standards for every student. The Ohio Learning Extension Network links
the K-16 community, builds a common agenda through a partnership council
of state and higher education board members, and targets or reallocates
existing fiscal resources in support of changes that will improve student
success at all levels (Boswell, p. 12).
The custodial function of the K-12 system fosters very different institutional
environments than the life-long learning adult function of community colleges.
Their different constituencies, organizational cultures, values, and purposes
and functions can interfere with collaborative efforts. Challenges that
may arise include: resistance or lack of coordination at administrative,
departmental, program and/or instructional levels; poor communication with
parents or between bureaucracies; lack of student interest; and difficulty
coordinating allocation of necessary resources between organizations (Azinger,
pp. 19-20; Nunley, Shartle-Galotto and Smith, p. 69).
DUAL CREDIT AND CONCURRENT ENROLLMENT PROGRAMS
Many state initiatives for educational reform have targeted dual credit,
dual enrollment or concurrent enrollment programs to enable high school
students to earn college level credit in course work offered at the high
school or community college. These programs may be part of a larger effort
to sequence secondary and postsecondary education curricula, or may simply
offer advanced placement courses to high school students.
Missouri, Illinois, Virginia, North Dakota, and Florida offer dual
credit college courses, taught by college faculty in a high school setting
for high school credit and/or advanced placement credit for college. Other
states offer concurrent or dual enrollment programs that allow eligible
high school students to take community college courses at the local college
for credit. This type of partnership may broaden and enrich the high school's
curriculum without the expense of hiring additional staff or finding additional
teaching space (Andrews, pp. 34-35).
While expanding advanced course offerings to students and allowing them
to earn college credit has enormous benefits, there are some structural
challenges involving organization, administration, and funding. Administrators
should implement a checklist of strategies that minimize potential legal
problems that can arise when high school students enroll in college courses
or when college staff work within high schools. Standards should be developed
to ensure academic quality and transferability of classes, and funding
procedures should examined to avoid charging taxpayers twice for the same
enrolled student (Boswell, p. 10; Azinger, pp.19-20; Lugg, p.90). Principles
of good practice for dual credit programs require colleges to articulate
clear and uniform expectations regarding (1) student eligibility; (2) program
structure and administration; (3) faculty qualifications and support; (4)
assessment of student performance; and (5) transferability of credit (Andrews,
TECH PREP AND '2+2+2' PROGRAMS
Tech prep offers high school students a well articulated, rigorous course
of study from the last two years of high school through a two-year (2+2)
or sometimes four-year (2+2+2) college degree, directed toward learning
for and about technologically focused careers. The six core components
of successful teach prep initiatives offer a model of reform for both high
schools and community colleges: (1) formal articulation strategies; (2)
rigorous and engaged learning; (3) meaningful linkages between theory and
practice; (4) outcomes-focused curriculum; (5) access and opportunity for
all students; and (6) longevity through collaboration (Bragg, pp. 23-26).
Tech prep programs appear to offer important outcomes for students and
foster stronger linkages between high schools, colleges and employers.
Preliminary results of a longitudinal study show that the majority of tech
prep participants in eight regions of the United States have engaged in
substantial academic and technical course work at the secondary level and
moved on to two-year or four year colleges at very high rates (Bragg, pp.
24-25). Implementation continues to evolve slowly due to a lack of coordination
between high schools and colleges in financing and structuring programs,
in developing sequential, articulated curriculum, and in implementing appropriate
changes in instructional pedagogy and academic standards (Bragg, pp. 25-26).
MIDDLE COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOLS
Middle college high schools (MCHSs) are high schools fully housed on
community college or university campuses. Representatives from high schools,
community colleges, and the community collaborate to develop the middle
college's mission, curriculum, and learning frameworks - and are involved
in ongoing MSHS governance structures.
Students identified as "at-risk" by their teachers and counselors attend
MCHSs, and are encouraged to succeed at high school and go on to higher
education or advanced training through peer modeling (students enrolled
at the college), small classes, and superior academic support services.
Student assessments from MCHSs over the last twenty-five years have documented
improved school attendance, grade point averages, graduation rates, transfer
rates and job placement rates (Cunningham and Wagonlander, pp. 41-42).
Establishing and sustaining middle college high schools depends upon successful
collaboration, shared governance, communication, administrative support
and visionary and energetic leadership (Cunningham & Wagonlander, p.
Distance education technology offers new opportunities for school-college
collaborations. Kentucky recently created the Virtual High School to offer
advanced math, science, and language courses to high school students statewide.
Classes will be offered online and supplemented by video and CD-ROM. Kentucky
intends to purchase courses from distance-education companies and institutions
in order to prepare students for compliance with new in-state college and
university admissions requirements. Other states, including Colorado, Pennsylvania,
Utah, and California, are establishing electronic community college systems.
Many states reward cooperation and collaboration between state distance-education
efforts to help avoid costly course duplication while providing another
bridge between high school and community college systems (Boswell, p. 11).
Lessons learned from these five types of collaborations are as follows:
(1) student transitions are enhanced by creating structural bridges between
community colleges and secondary schools, aligning curriculum and testing
requirements, and offering dual credit or concurrent enrollment opportunities;
(2) the social, political, and economic realities unique to each educational
sector must be honored in order to develop effective partnerships; (3)
it is possible, and important, to build and implement a common agenda for
high schools and community colleges in support of changes that will improve
student success at all levels. (Palmer, p. 13; Azinger, p.20, Watson, 53-58).
This digest is drawn from "How Community Colleges Can Create Productive
Collaborations with Local Schools." New Directions for Community Colleges,
Number 111, James C. Palmer, Ed., San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Fall, 2000.
Andrews, H.A. Lessons Learned from Current State and National Dual-Credit
Programs. (pp. 31-39)
Azinger, A. A K-12 Perspective on Partnerships with Community Colleges.
Boswell, K. Building Bridges or Barriers? Public Policies That Facilitate
or Impede Linkages Between Community Colleges and Local School Districts.
Bragg, D.D. Maximizing the Benefits of Tech-Prep Initiatives for High
School Students. (pp. 23-30) Cunningham, C.L. & Wagonlander, C.S. Establishing
and Sustaining a Middle College High School. (pp. 41-51)
Lugg, E.T. Anticipating Legal Problems When Working with High School
Students. (pp. 83-91)
Nunley, C.R., Shartle-Galotto, M.K., & Smith, M.H. Working with
Schools to Prepare Students for College: A Case Study. (pp. 59-71)
Outcalt, C.L. Sources and Information. (pp. 105-110)
Palmer, J.C. Demographics, State Education Reform Policies, and the
Enduring Community College Role as an Extension of the Schools. (pp. 93-103)
Watson, L.W. Working with Schools to Ease Student Transition to the
Community College. (pp. 53-58)