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ERIC Number: ED529493
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Feb
Pages: 117
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 49
Building Pathways to Transfer: Community Colleges That Break the Chain of Failure for Students of Color
Gandara, Patricia; Alvarado, Elizabeth; Driscoll, Anne; Orfield, Gary
Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles
It has been well established that the high schools students attend contribute significantly to how well they do in college, and even if they choose to attend college at all (Lee & Frank, 1990). Low performing high schools tend to under-prepare their students for post-secondary education and contribute to the very high percentages of students who arrive at college without the requisite skills to succeed in college level courses. The authors have chosen to study those community colleges that disproportionately transfer African American and Latino students from low-performing high schools because they believe there are important lessons to be learned from colleges that have successfully confronted this significant challenge, and because this is a rapidly growing sector of the school-age population across the nation and in California. The present study's design consists of several phases. Phase 1 examined the academic fates of students who entered the California community college system from low performing high schools (the lowest quintile on a composite measure of academic performance and SES) between 1996 and 1998 and who did so with the intention of transferring to a four-year college or university to earn a college degree. Transfer outcomes were assessed 6 years after they entered, between 2002 and 2004. Phase 2 of the study then consisted of conducting case studies of those 5 colleges that showed disproportionate success in transfer of the targeted students. The case studies consisted of multi-day visits to campuses over a period of time, interviews with each President, Vice-Presidents for Student and Academic Affairs, Counseling and Program Staffs, Transfer Center Directors and Financial Aid personnel, and selected faculty who were named as playing a significant role in the transfer function. Phase 3 of the study design involved surveying students, usually through electronic surveys, but sometimes in classrooms, at each of the five campuses, using whatever means were available to oversample Latinos and African Americans. Phase 4 of the study design then involved interviewing key individuals at feeder high schools and receiving universities, this generally included head counselors at the high schools, and outreach and counseling staff at the universities. In the case of the high schools, data collection was limited by the willingness of "low performing schools" to participate. Because this is a "moving picture" the authors are unable to capture all that was occurring at the time that these campuses experienced their successes with their cohorts, and they are unable to know the outcomes of newer innovations that they observed on these campuses in recent times. They are, however, able to make some observations that they think can help move the field forward in significant ways. Across the colleges they studied, five things were common and important to the success they observed. These are: (1) The colleges that showed disproportionate success in transferring African Americans and Latinos from low performing/high need high schools were not necessarily those with strong reputations for transfer; (2) Community college outreach was in many cases the reason that students came to the college in the first place, and connected with appropriate services once there; (3) Strong transfer counseling is the sine quo non of community college transfer, yet it is wholly inadequate and this is not always just because of resource limitations; (4) Every campus immediately pointed to its special support programs for underrepresented students as key to increasing its transfer rate for these students; and (5) Developmental education is the elephant in the living room for transfer of minority students from low performing/high need high schools. (Contains 11 tables, 25 figures and 18 footnotes.) [For the policy brief, "Building Pathways to Transfer: Community Colleges That Break the Chain of Failure for Students of Color. Policy Brief," see ED529494.]
Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles. 8370 Math Sciences, P.O. Box 951521, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521. Tel: 310-267-5562; Fax: 310-206-6293; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: University of California, Los Angeles, Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles
Identifiers - Location: California