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Building Bridges: A Case Study of A High School-Community College Partnership

  • Author(s): Hernandez, Lisa Ann
  • Advisor(s): Durkin, Diane
  • Macias, Reynaldo
  • et al.


Building Bridges:

A Case Study of A High School-Community College Partnership


Lisa Hernandez

University of California, Los Angeles, 2017

Professor Reynaldo Macias, Co-Chair

Professor Diane Durkin, Co-Chair

This dissertation contributed to research on partnerships by conducting a case study of a high school-community college partnership. By providing narratives of stakeholders’ collaboration, this dissertation shed light on the process of creating and implementing a high school/community college partnership in addition to tracking the early outcomes of this partnership’s third year of implementation.

This study focused on a high school/community college partnership that addressed community college remediation by introducing a new 12th grade English curriculum titled expository reading and writing course (ERWC). Through the collaborative efforts of instructors, counselors, and administrators, this partnership identified and implemented ways to help students place into and complete college level English.

Studies have shown that partnerships can significantly improve student outcomes (Bathgate, Colvin, & Silva, 2011; Domina & Ruzek, 2012; Lawson, 2013; Wang & Hodara, 2014). Model partnerships serve to inform educators and legislators about what makes a partnership effective (Bathgate et al., 2011; Domina & Ruzek, 2012; Lawson, 2013; Wang & Hodara, 2014). This K-16 partnership resembles the Santa Ana model. A case study of this partnership found that it provided an effective long-term strategy for improving high school completion rates and college success and yielded measurable improvements for students (Domina & Ruzek, 2012). Other studies have found that P-20 partnerships improve curriculum alignment and facilitate the transition of students from high school to college (Bathgate et al., 2011; Wang & Hodara, 2014).

This partnership targeted remedial education since it is a significant problem in community colleges (The Century Foundation, 2013; Complete College America, 2011). According to Venezia and Kirst (2005), California suffers from “disconnected educational systems” (p. 283): a problem that can be ameliorated by creating pathways. Through pathways, high schools and community colleges can better inform students, parents, instructors, and administrators of each institution’s respective mission; the greater the communication and collaboration, the greater the possibility of improved outcomes (Venezia & Kirst, 2005).

Understanding how partnerships reduce remediation would allow community colleges to replicate similar partnerships throughout the United States. Research supports inter-institutional studies for reducing institutions’ silo tendencies, which make it hard for students to transition from one institution to another (Venezia & Kirst, 2005). Inter-institutional partnerships, such as P-16 partnerships or Cradle To Career Community Partnerships, offer a promising new institutional design for a more integrated, equitable educational system (Bathgate et al., 2011; Domina & Ruzek, 2012; Lawson, 2013).

This partnership implemented a variety of strategies to improve high school graduation rates and college-readiness, strategies that focused on staff development, implementation of a new English curriculum, and increasing student support services. All of these strategies were based on the mutual effort of partnership members. Combined, these strategies aimed to increase high school graduation, increase enrollment at the local community college, and assure that students are not only entering college level English but also, because they are college ready, accelerating their progress in community college.

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