Academic journal article High School Journal

The Effects of GO Centers on Creating a College Culture in Urban High Schools in Texas

Academic journal article High School Journal

The Effects of GO Centers on Creating a College Culture in Urban High Schools in Texas

Article excerpt

Despite a generation of efforts to make higher education an achievable goal for all students, the gap in college participation rates between low-income and high-income students has not narrowed. Moreover, students of color continue to be underrepresented on postsecondary campuses. Early intervention efforts and college outreach programs such as college access centers have been identified as exemplary strategies for encouraging a college-going culture in high schools and in decreasing the gap among racial/ ethnic groups who have access to college. This study examined the effectiveness of enhanced college access centers known as GO Centers in assisting students during their preparation and application for college and in providing activities conducive to the development of a college-going culture in eight comprehensive high schools located in a large urban school district. Findings indicate that the enhanced GO Centers demonstrate four aspects identified as important in encouraging a college-going culture in a high school: The centers (a) are inclusive and accessible to all students; (b) demonstrate an understanding of how students develop aspirations and plans to attend college; (c) offer comprehensive services to students and their families, including guidance in preparing for college, applying for college, and accessing financial aid; and (d) employ a systematic approach involving stakeholders.

**********

According to a 2007 report published by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), less than 20% of all students who enter high school each year in the United States persist in earning a post-secondary degree of any sort. The varied, complex reasons for this statistic include students' difficulty with middle and high school course work, as well as school practices that offer low academic expectations, demonstrate scant respect for students' cultural and linguistic diversity, and provide few opportunities for students to develop caring, supportive relationships with teachers and counselors (Calaff, 2008; Cooper & Liou, 2007). In a 2008 study, Balfanz identified high schools with what he termed "weak promoting power" (likely to graduate less than 75% of its students); perhaps not surprisingly, students at these schools were primarily from historically marginalized groups and living in poverty. Specifically, nearly 50% of African American and almost 40% of Latino students (but only 11% of White students) attend high schools in this country in which graduation is not the norm (Balfanz & Legters, 2004). Students attending urban neighborhood high schools are often at the greatest risk of academic failure due to the pervasive, multiple risk factors related to social, economic, and educational demographics (Berliner, 2006; Neild & Balfanz, 2006), and even among high-achieving students, low socio-economic status (SES) overwhelmingly proves to be a stumbling block preventing a successful transition from high school to college (Plank & Jordan, 2001).

In Texas, urban school districts serve large numbers of Hispanic and African American students, who are among the lowest-achieving students in the state and have the highest dropout rates (Lofstrom, 2007; McNeil, Coppola, Radigan, & Vasquez Heilig, 2008). The educational challenges facing urban high schools in Texas are great, and a concerted, integrated, multidisciplinary effort is needed to address these problems.

To compound the challenge, the proportion of students enrolled in higher education in many states is declining, and a large gap continues to exist among racial/ethnic groups in both enrollment and graduation from the nation's colleges and universities. Studies have indicated that most high school students (and their parents) recognize the value of college and expect the student will go on to participate in some form of postsecondary education (Auerbach, 2002; Cooper & Liou, 2007; Holland & Farmer-Hinton, 2009; McClafferty, McDonough, & Nunez, 2002; Venezia & Kirst, 2005; Wimberly, 2002); moreover, these aspirations remain constant across gender, ethnicity, race, and social class. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.