ERIC Identifier: ED308277
Publication Date: 1989-00-00
Author: Ascher, Carol - Schwartz, Wendy
Clearinghouse on Urban Education New York NY.
School-College Alliances: Benefits for Low-Income Minorities.
ERIC/CUE Digest No. 53.
The transition from high school to college is difficult for all students, but
college enrollment may be simply beyond the grasp of some disadvantaged minority
students. To help such students take advantage of the opportunities available to
middle-class students, high schools and colleges have begun to collaborate. The
collaborating institutions also benefit: public schools receive resources and
support they could not otherwise afford, and colleges can be assured of a larger
and more fully prepared freshman class.
Although school-college articulation efforts, such as advanced placement and
dual enrollment programs, are not new, there has been a proliferation of
school-college collaboratives since 1980. Moreover, in contrast to the earlier
efforts, which served relatively few minorities, current collaboratives often
have minorities as their focus.
WHY SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES COLLABORATE
In general, schools
and colleges recognize that they are dealing with related parts of a common
problem: helping disadvantaged students get the education they need to join an
increasingly sophisticated labor force. While neither their specific goals nor
their methods of functioning are likely to be in complete accord, both partners
believe that collaboration can help them solve problems of mutual concern.
Student Development. A primary reason for collaboration is to improve the
college preparatory education of disadvantaged students through curriculum
enhancement and remedial programs; and to provide students with counseling and
other supports to promote high school completion, college enrollment and
continued attendance until college graduation.
School Improvement. The infusion of college resources: (1) helps high schools
develop new curricula to meet a reform agenda; (2) improves their facility, by
providing laboratories and other equipment (or at least makes such resources
available to students through campus access agreements); (3) helps develop
programs for at-risk students (i.e., dropout prevention) that schools aren't
able to implement independently; and (4) increases articulation between K-12 and
post-secondary education. In addition, schools acquire prestige from
collaborating with colleges, and this can help stem urban white middle class
flight. Equally important, college ties can facilitate teacher recruitment and
development (Gross, 1988). Finally, a number of school-college alliances offer
schools the opportunity to participate in the research projects of schools of
education. These collaboratives ensure that teaching is research-driven and that
research is relevant to teachers' needs.
College Improvement. By helping to prepare students for college before they
enroll, colleges can help ensure larger, more ethnically and racially diverse
incoming classes, who are academically ready for college work. Thus, recruitment
is easier, and the need for remedial courses diminished. Colleges also receive
public relations benefits from collaborating: political and community leaders
frequently urge colleges to focus more directly on the needs of urban students.
Moreover, a common incentive is the increasing number of grants which stipulate
school-college collaboration (Trubowitz, 1984).
Schools of education in particular can benefit from collaboratives. Public
schools are a ready source of enrichment for teacher education curriculum, and
of classes for student teachers and individual students for tutoring projects;
and they are the best place to test research. Public schools can also offer
schools of education more direct contributions, such as collaboration on the
development of projects.
TYPES OF COLLABORATIVE ACTIVITIES
The number of activities
already created by school-college collaboratives is enormous, and is steadily
growing. Although early intervention may be more beneficial for students, most
collaborative activities are for junior and senior high school students. In
general, these activities fall into two categories: those that directly target
students, and those that indirectly improve students'educational experiences.
These are some of the most common collaborative activities:
o College-Level Study in High School, often situated on college campuses,
for the disadvantaged gifted.
o Academic Counseling on precollege courses.
o Tutoring, Mentoring, and Skills Building, provided by college faculty,
staff, or students.
o Campus Tours and Contact with College Students.
o Summer Remedial or College Programs, on campus.
o Parent Involvement Programs to encourage support for students' college
aspirations at home.
o Teacher Development to prepare teachers to teach new subjects or to
improve their abilities in those previously studied, to raise
their morale, and to heighten their expectations for disadvantaged
o Curriculum Improvement, through creation of a community of
practice-sensitive researchers and research-sensitive teachers.
THE PROCESS OF COLLABORATION
In the past, a hierarchal
structure, with colleges holding the power and resources, was assumed to be one
of the sources of friction in a collaborative and a cause of its eventual
demise. Thus, current collaboratives strive for collegiality and equality in
relationships between public school and college participants, although the ideal
is usually beyond reach.
Leadership. Top leadership in both institutions should be involved to give
legitimacy to the collaborative and to ensure the availability of human and
financial resources (Mocker, Martin, & Brown, 1988).
Hands-On Participants. Participants should include individuals (i.e.,
principals, deans, teachers, professors, counselors) who have the most to gain
from collaboration, and who represent a broad range of departments from both
sides. Representatives from the school side are likely to be more eager to
participate, since the reward system for college faculty still stresses teaching
and publishing, and working with a collaborative can detract from those
activities. Still, benefits can accrue to college participants, and they should
be clearly indicated at the outset.
Funding. Broad-based and long-term funding is crucial to the stability of a
collaborative, although it is difficult to secure. While foundations are
currently supporting collaboratives in the short-run, as a means of improving
the general health of urban areas, funders may steer collaboratives in a
direction different from the one desired by their members. Further, the fact
that colleges usually receive and administer the grants skews the power balance
of the collaborative, despite efforts at equality.
Stages. Collaboratives move through various stages of development (Trubowitz,
1984; Gifford & Gabelko, 1987). For example, replacing feelings of
distrust--one of the stages--with collegiality requires sharing experiences and
roles. Other stages must be worked through similarly until mutuality and trust
NETWORKS OF COLLABORATIVES
Collaborative networks can share
lessons, give mutual support, and develop models. There are currently several
effective ones in operation, including The College Board's Educational EQuality
Project Models Program, the Council of Chief State School Officers
School/College Collaboration Project, the National Association of State
University and Land-Grant College's University/Urban School Collaborative
Program, and John Goodlad's National Network for Urban Renewal.
Despite the proliferation of collaboratives in
the last decade, there are unsolved problems about the operation of
collaboratives. Prime among them is control: the tendency is for colleges to
dominate despite claims of equality. Also, questions remain about whether the
resources needed for effective collaboration might be more effectively applied
to other activities; while there has been much public and foundation enthusiasm
for the growing prevalence of collaboratives, it is still questionable whether
the large amounts of time and effort required to initiate and perpetuate them
could be spent more productively on other methods of educational improvement for
poor and minority students.
Further, notwithstanding the domination of colleges, the general perception
is that school personnel benefit most from the collaboration--indeed, even more
than the disadvantaged students who were the intended principal beneficiaries of
collaborative projects (Mickelson, Kritek, Hedlund, & Kaufmann, 1988).
There are also some areas of concern to disadvantaged students, such as the
financing of their college education, that thus far have remained largely
untouched by collaboratives. These problems must be addressed if all students
are to have equal access to a college education.
The College Board, Office of Academic Affairs.
(1987). EQ Models program for school-college collaboration. New York: Author.
Gifford, B.R., & Gabelko, N.H. (1987, August). Research into research: SUPER
project case studies. Education and Urban Society. (19) 4, 389-420.
(1988, June). A valedictory: Together we have built bridges to create a
partnership in education. SUNY Purchase Westchester School Partnership
Newsletter. (4) 3, 1ff.
Mickelson, D.J., Kritek, W.J., Hedlund, R.D., &
Kaufmann, A.M. (1988, February). Urban school-university collaboration. Final
report to the Ford Foundation. Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
Graduate School of Education.
Mocker, D.W., Martin, D.C., & Brown, N.C.
(1988, April). Lessons learned from collaboration. Urban Education. (23) 1,
Trubowitz, S. (1984). When a college works WITH a public school: A case
study of school-college collaboration. Boston: Institute for Responsive
The comprehensive monograph on which this Digest is based, "School-College
Collaborations: A Strategy for Helping Low-Income Minorities," by Carol Ascher,
is available for $8 from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education. In addition
to providing an expanded discussion of the issues capsulized here, it includes
descriptions of many collaboratives operating around the country and a 50-item