ACTE Techniques January 2012 : Page 33

cal Education, researchers at the National Institute for Workforce and Learning began a study in 2008 to examine “ma-ture” POS-like sites around the country, to learn about how they were developed and how they work. We solicited nominations for sites to study from a variety of knowledgeable stakeholders. (For a description of the study’s method and preliminary obser-vation findings, see the article “POS: Observations on Process and Structure” in the January 2010 issue of Techniques .) Three sites were selected that met the cri-teria, primarily consisting of evidence of a strong secondary-postsecondary partner-ship with students moving from the high school to the college in a CTE program. Dual enrollment was a critical piece at the secondary level. The three selected sites are geographically, demographically, and programmatically diverse (see below). Each is anchored by a community college with multiple (between six and 12) feeder high schools. After a site selection process that included site visits and interviews, the longitudinal study began in early 2009. Over the last three years, we have con-ducted additional site visits for each of the mature POS to interview administrators and faculty at the high school and college levels, as well as advisory committee members from the business community. These interviews and observations pro-vided information for rich case studies of individual sites as well as the opportunity to compare and contrast across sites and with Perkins IV (more detail is available in the Techniques January 2010 article and in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Educational Reform ). Research Questions 1. What are the key elements of mature secondary-postsecondary career path-ways? Who are the key players? What are the key policies and processes? 2. How do the key elements map back onto the Perkins IV legislation on POS? 3. What are the educational and career pathways of students who begin a POS in high school? Do they continue in college? What happens to students who do not continue in the POS in college? Interview Findings Overall, we found that the “mature” POS sites that we studied had successfully surmounted various barriers to develop-ing POS over a timeframe of at least nine years. Common key elements of these ma-ture POS include: (1) resources (primarily provided by the college) for staff dedi-cated to creating and maintaining POS relationships with high schools; (2) active business and industry advisory groups; and (3) uniquely tailored and flexible dual enrollment arrangements. Finally, at each site, high school and college leaders share a vision of seamless student transi-tions that ultimately benefit students, the college and the local economy. Without sustained attention to these aspects of partnership, these sites may not have been able to navigate the bumpy road to achieve mature POS. On the other hand, because the programs were established before POS were legally introduced, they cannot be expected to meet all of the goals of POS. We did find some weaknesses when we retrospectively compared the programs to the 10 elements in the POS Framework released by OVAE in the second year of our study. 1 For example, both the qualita-tive and the quantitative data (see page 34) suggested that the role of high school counselors in career guidance could be improved. Furthermore, data systems for tracking students across educational levels were not yet well-coordinated. For the purposes of the research study, we collected transcript data from the high schools and the colleges and were able to track educational pathways for participat-ing students who had transitioned to the affiliated college; however, such efforts were not being undertaken by administra-tors unless specific programs required the information for reporting, marketing or program improvement purposes. Student Survey Findings To understand students’ perspectives and how they progress through these mature POS from high school to college, we ad-ministered surveys to high school juniors and seniors in each of the selected POS sites beginning in 2009. It should be kept in mind that the students who responded to the surveys are not necessarily repre-sentative of all students in their POS, let alone of POS students in general. How-ever, their answers serve to complement the qualitative data. Selected Mature Programs of Study Sites Masked Site Name “River College” “Desert College” “Northern College” Location Midwest/South Southwest North Midwest 2002 City Population 55,745 529,219 67,145 Programs of Study Selected for Research Industrial Maintenance, Mechatronics Film Tech, Culinary Arts, Construction Technology Automotive Technology, Welding www.acteonline.org Januar y 2012 Techniques 33

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