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New NCPR Report on College Readiness Partnerships

Preparing High School Students for College: An Exploratory Study of College Readiness Partnership Programs in Texas

Elisabeth A. Barnett, William Corrin, Aki Nakanishi, Rachel Hare Bork, Claire Mitchell, and Susan Sepanik, with Heather D. Wathington, Joshua Pretlow, Beth Hustedt, Nikki Edgecombe, Alissa Gardenhire, and Nicole Clabaugh

May 22, 2012

College readiness partnership programs, co-sponsored by a college and K-12 organization, are designed to prepare high school students for college-level work. The current study examines 37 college readiness partnership programs in Texas and identifies their features, targeted students, and intended outcomes. It also examines the partnerships that created these programs. The findings presented in this report are based on the relevant research and Texas policy literature; an online scan of college readiness partnership programs in Texas; and site visits to high schools, colleges, and community-based organizations in the Houston and Dallas–Fort Worth areas.

Most programs in this study could be classified as either academic-focused or “college knowledge”–focused. The former tended to be intensive, short-term programs that targeted a small group of students and provided a direct experience of college; the latter tended to be light-touch, long-term programs that were open to all students and provided little direct experience of college.

Although few rigorous evaluations of these programs have been conducted, their potential to improve college readiness for students in the “academic middle” is generally supported by the literature and the research presented in this report. College readiness partnerships create opportunities for secondary and postsecondary institutions to leverage each other’s services and resources, and in some cases, they also lead to long-lasting relationships between institutions.

Programs may have the best chance of improving outcomes if commonly encountered challenges — such as issues related to student recruitment and program sustainability — are considered early in the planning stages. The authors emphasize the value of choosing interventions that show the greatest promise in a given context and matching students to the interventions that best meet their needs; they also note that building a stronger evidence base would enhance high schools’ and colleges’ ability to make sound decisions about which potential program models to implement.

Download the Full Report (PDF) | Executive Summary (PDF)