To download dissertations and theses, please click on the appropriate "Download" button for your campus to log in and be e-verified. When you reach the "Sign into your JWU email" page, enter your JWU username and password.

Non-JWU users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

A Rhode Island high school-university partnership: Urban students' perceptions of college readiness

Colleen A Callahan, Johnson & Wales University


Nearly one third of U.S. students will fail to graduate from high school this year and another one-third will graduate without the skills needed to be successful after high school. These statistics are even more alarming for minority and low income students, with fewer than 10% of low income minority students going on to earn bachelors’ degrees (Sanford, 2006). Numerous studies and commissions such as the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education (U.S. Department of Education, 2006), the National Education Summit on High Schools (2005), and the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ (1996, 2004) Breaking Ranks reports point to the need for reforming the current high school delivery system. Chief among the recommendations of these studies is the alignment of expectations between high schools and institutions of higher education and opportunities for students to develop an understanding of the nature and expectations of college ensuring their “college readiness”. Such readiness is defined as being prepared for college level work without remediation (Conley, 2007b). In order to test these theories in a real world context (Yin, 2003), this case study examines a partnership between a Rhode Island urban high school and a 4 year institution of higher education and the impact of its Dual Enrollment Program on students’ perceptions of college readiness. The aims of the study are: (1) How does participation in high school–university partnership’s dual enrollment program affect urban high school students’ perceptions of college readiness?, and (2) What academic, organizational and personal supports do urban high school students need to become college ready? This study triangulates data from interviews with 17 students participating in the partnership’s Dual Enrollment program with survey data from a larger, statewide Dual Enrollment initiative, as well as a review of documents including the partnership agreement between the school district and the university, course syllabi for the two dual enrollment courses taken by the participating students, two interviews with program administrators and observation notes from four program site visits. The selected high school and its students reflect the characteristics of most U.S. urban high schools and this study provides an opportunity to validate the theories on college readiness presented in the literature. The results will inform the partnership and the larger statewide effort, and might be applicable to other urban high schools across the country through examination of the persons, places, times and events and where there is similarity or dissimilarity (Trochim, 2002; Patton, 2002).

Subject Area

Secondary education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Callahan, Colleen A, "A Rhode Island high school-university partnership: Urban students' perceptions of college readiness" (2010). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3404230.