Working Together to Prepare Students for College Success (CCDaily.com)
There is hope. A few great examples of partnerships between community colleges and high schools are discussed in this article. A program out of Maryland graduated 92 students from the Academy of Health Sciences Middle College; these students earned their associate's degree the same day they earned a high school diploma. In California, a consortium of eight colleges, 30 high schools, and more than 100 employers are organized into four hubs to offer support systems like dual-enrollment, bridge programs, mentorships, and tutoring to prepare students for ICT-related careers. Maricopa Colleges in Arizona implemented Hoop of Learning, a program that covers most of the financial costs of college and works with school districts to guide qualified participants into mainstreaming with regular college students. The GC PASS initiative in Texas encourages its eight community colleges and 11 school districts to create transition teams, and tackles the ever-present blame game between high schools and colleges in the process.
Technical colleges would do even better to recognize the potential in partnering with high schools. Research out of the NRCCTE found that many students who have trouble with traditional academic subjects choose technical fields. Furthermore, research from the CCRC found that students in technical programs are less likely than students in an academic field to achieve their degree.
Arguably the best benefit from partnership programs like these is how much they help students adopt an identity of learning, professionalism, and growth. What's more, using an occupational context to teach fundamental concepts can be traced back to Dewey's philosophy, and several published reports recommend it to improve student achievement. Technical colleges would doubly benefit from this, since vocational programs are still seen as second choice options, and, as an article The Chronicle of Higher Ed points out, Western culture still sees vocational programs as only job-oriented or hands-on instead of academic. This is a problem since the technical fields continue to become more complex and require higher and higher levels of skill and knowledge, and workers in the vocational fields face increased demands.
These types of extensive efforts that involve several stakeholders imply a certain need in the general education landscape. The silos that exist are detrimental to all students, but they've been allowed to exist so far because enough students have been able to work around them. Now that we're facing a reported skills gap and a call from all sides to get more students to and through college, those silos have to come down. Coupled with the number of employers offering education as a job perk, higher education would do well to recognize this need for a fundamental change.