Excerpted from the SEP by Gateway to College, a subgrantee of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.
As discussed [in the introduction], the goal of the Gateway to College program is to reconnect students who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out of high school by putting them on a path to earn their high school diploma while also earning credits towards an Associate’s degree or certificate. This section describes the various players, activities, and key outputs that feed into attaining the student-level outcomes being measured in this evaluation. This section also describes and provides support for the assumptions behind the logic model (Figure 2.1) as available through past research and a review of the literature.
The individual components of the logic model are described in detail in several paragraphs.
Inputs: (Please scroll down to view all of the highlighted content.)
As demonstrated in Figure 2.1, the Gateway to College logic model has three main inputs, which represent the organizational infrastructure required to successfully implement the Gateway to College model: (1) the Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN); (2) community colleges; and (3) K-12 school districts.
The first input is the Gateway to College National Network, which is based in Portland, Oregon and is charged with overseeing the implementation of the Gateway to College program, including providing training and support for instructors and staff, as well as developing and sustaining partnerships between K-12 school districts and community colleges. The second input is community colleges, which serve as the institutional hosts for all Gateway to College classes and are also where the Gateway to College staff are located. Participating students have full access to college courses, facilities, and support services. The community college partnership also provides flexible class times for non-traditional students’ schedules. Currently, there are 29 colleges in 16 states in the Gateway to College network. The third input is the K-12 school districts, which provide funding for tuition and books, are a central source of student data, and provide referrals to the Gateway to College program. Together, the Gateway to College National Network, community colleges, and K-12 school districts provide the infrastructure for the implementation of the Gateway to College program and related activities.
Activities, Outputs, & Outcomes
The five core program activities of Gateway to College as outlined in the logic model are a holistic and interdependent network of services that include both student-level activities and support for Gateway to College staff. The student-level activities and services include: (1) the Foundation Experience; (2) transitioning to general college classes; and (3) support from Resource Specialists. The activities associated with program staff include: (4) Implementation of student instruction and support based on the Gateway to College “Principles of Teaching & Learning”; and (5) Support from the Gateway to College National Network through ongoing training, technical assistance, and professional development.
Each activity is clearly described, including the outcomes to be measured. (Please scroll down to view all of the highlighted content.)
Each activity is clearly described, including the outcomes to be measured.
All students begin with the Foundation experience where a learning community of 20-25 students takes developmental reading, writing, math and college preparatory courses taught primarily by Gateway to College faculty. The Foundation Experience is intended to create a shared experience among students, as well as a network of peer support. This network of peer support is designed to strengthen over time and is expected to carry over to the second activity outlined in the theory of change--the transition to general college classes. The theory of change posits that the learning community and network of peer support created by these two activities is a key factor that helps to facilitate improved retention and academic outcomes (e.g. more credits earned, increased number of college courses completed.). Tinto (1997), who conducted a study on the impact of learning communities in a community college setting, argues that “learning communities promote persistence by facilitating the creation of supportive peer groups among students, encouraging shared learning, and giving students the opportunity to actively participate in knowledge selection” (Bailey, 2005).
Existing literature and research are cited throughout the section to illustrate the basis for the model, as well as the connections between the component parts.
In addition, a recent report by MDRC on the impact of learning communities on community college students found that those who participated in a learning community attempted and passed their developmental math classes at higher rates than those students who were not a part of the learning community (Weissman, 2011). While these results diminished in subsequent semesters, students in the learning communities still reported higher levels of engagement and greater satisfaction with their college experience, and were more likely to take and pass an English assessment test required for graduation or transfer more than a year later. In addition, this study also found that linked classes can have an impact on students’ achievement during the program semester – a feature that is inherent in the Gateway to College program design.
Moreover, as activities in the logic model, the Foundation Experience and the transition to general college classes also lead to two key outputs of the Gateway to College program: the dual-enrollment component and the partnership between K-12 and postsecondary institutions. While dual-enrollment programs have been in existence for many years, they were once reserved for high achieving students, and have only recently become increasingly available for moderate to lower achieving students such as those targeted by Gateway to College (Bailey, 2003). Research by the American Association of State College and Universities (2002) suggests that dual enrollment may reduce high school dropout rates, increase student aspirations, and decrease the amount of remediation needed by incoming college students. Past research also suggests that one reason dual enrollment programs that serve at-risk students have the potential to reduce the high school dropout rate is because it provides students the opportunity to be academically challenged and partake in more engaging coursework (Lords, 2000) – an opportunity that may not have been present in some traditional K-12 settings, and one that is embedded in Gateway to College instruction and support.
In addition to increasing high school completion rates, this program theory of change hypothesizes that Gateway to College also has an impact on longer-term outcomes such as postsecondary access and success. While the impact on these outcomes will not be tested during the three-year timeframe of this evaluation, the literature on programs with dual enrollment components leading to postsecondary gains is promising and should be noted, particularly if the timeframe of this evaluation can be extended and additional follow-up is conducted. In a study by Karp (2007) using data obtained from the State of Florida and the City University of New York (CUNY), it was found that dual enrollment was positively related to enrollment in college, and also increased the likelihood of enrolling in a four-year institution.
Activities 3, 4, and 5, which are: (3) support provided by Resource Specialists; (4) the use of the “Principles of Teaching & Learning” as the guiding framework for how to deliver student instruction; (5) and ongoing training, technical assistance, and professional development support provided by the Gateway to College National Network, together represent a host of wrap around support services that make up two key outputs: (1) Innovative Teaching & Learning; and (2) Intentional Collaboration.
The Innovative Teaching & Learning output encourages Gateway to College instructors and staff to implement innovative pedagogical techniques guided by the Gateway to College “Principles of Teaching & Learning.” Drawing from literature in K-12 education, numerous studies have revealed the tremendous impact teachers/instructors have on student achievement. For example, in a study by Marzano (2003), students of teachers who were characterized as “most effective” posted gains of 53 percentage points over the course of one academic year, as compared to 14 percentage points for students taught by teachers that were “least effective.” While the context in the Gateway to College program is different from that of K-12 school settings, the implications of having a strong cadre of instructors is clear -- particularly for the at-risk student population that Gateway to College serves. As such, the Gateway to College theory of change posits that the high level of training and ongoing support that the Gateway to College National Network provides its staff, as well as the network of professional collaboration across the network plays a critical role in impacting the academic achievement of students.
As discussed above, the short-term outcomes being measured in this evaluation are promising intermediate indicators of the longer-term outcomes such as attainment of a high school diploma and postsecondary access and success. Taken together, we expect that the holistic and interdependent network of services coupled with high quality instruction, dual-enrollment framework, and strong culture of collaboration and support (for both students and instructors) provides a promising framework for positively impacting the student outcomes being measured in this evaluation.
The logic model graphic (and narrative section) focus on the essential components of the program and the processes related to it.
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