Bridges Across the P-16 Continuum: The Role of Educational Partnerships
The American Graduation Initiative (Obama, 2009) and the Lumina Foundation (2010) focused attention on the fact that the US is losing ground relative to other countries on the number of individuals possessing a college degree (Adelman, 2009). Research shows that a college degree results in higher individual earning potential, contributes to the local economy, and decreases crime and health costs (Baum & Ma, 2007). Higher education does not exist as an independent entity, however, as pre-collegiate preparation and student anticipation for college contribute to the collegiate experience. With educational attainment viewed as a lever for economic improvement and enhanced quality of life, state (Stedron et al., 2010) and federal (US Department of Education, 2006) policymakers continue to create programs that promote education across the P-16 pipeline. Recently, remedial education has been a focus for understanding the links between high school preparation and college readiness (Rutschow & Schneider, 2011). One way to bridge the P-12 and college divide is through educational partnerships.
Policy makers often are supportive of partnerships in state and federal policies. For example, the Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 (2011), which is tagged with the public title of Top Jobs for the 21st Century (TJ21), focuses on issues of college access, college readiness, and transfer routes. Partnerships are also advocated by grant and funding agencies. The Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, for instance, requires partnerships between US colleges and those in India. A focus on educational reform in India highlights preferences for those dealing with vocational training and two-year programming (Fischer, 2011; Neelakantan, 2011). Despite these rationales for partnering, many partnerships fail (Eddy, 2007; Farrell & Seifert, 2007). Thus, it becomes important to understand what factors contribute to successful partnerships and to provide a framework for institutional leaders seeking to partner with other colleges.
Creating a bridge between the K-12 system and the postsecondary system is important to support adult learning. This report shows that adult education cannot thrive on its own. The topics within this report are useful to state staff to guide policy creation that reflects the needs of adult learners within the context of all learners.