Scholars connected to College investigating students' college, career readiness

by the College of Education at Illinois  /   Aug 17, 2017

Three collaborating scholars within and connected to the College of Education at Illinois have published three articles in top journals related to college and career readiness.

Donald HackmannProfessor Donald Hackmann of the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership (EPOL) said the commonality within all three research projects is on how school leaders, teachers, and state policymakers are adopting policies and practices that improve the preparation of all high school students, particularly students of color and those who are economically disadvantaged.

“One of the missions of the College of Education is a commitment to making education equitable and accessible to all learners,” Hackmann said. “These projects, and our ongoing research, show that pre-K through high school as well as higher education are increasingly interconnected in the policies and practices of college and career readiness.”

Hackmann collaborated with alumnus Joel R. Malin, Ph.D. ’15 EPOL, on two of the studies, which centered on principals’ and high school educators’ promotion of college and career readiness and enhancing students’ transitions to college and careers. Malin is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami University. Their work was published in the Journal of Educational Administration and the journal Leadership and Policy in Schools.

Debra BraggHackmann and Malin also worked with Gutgsell Professor Emerita Debra Bragg on a study that analyzed how a focus on college and career readiness is evident within the Every Student Succeeds Act. Bragg is a former EPOL scholar and the former director of the Office of Community College Research and Leadership. The trio’s project was published by Educational Administration Quarterly.

The research into high school career academy models revealed that school leaders typically focus on outcomes such as improved graduation rates, attendance, and declines in disciplinary referrals. Hackmann said that while these goals are important, educators often analyze data in the aggregate, without fully considering college and career readiness for students who have historically been underrepresented in some career fields.

“All students should have access to rigorous coursework and should be encouraged to consider career fields that ultimately prepare graduates for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand occupations,” he said.

The ongoing research conducted by Hackmann and Malin will explore ways in which educators can work with cross-sector community partners to promote access of underrepresented students to career academies and encourage them to enroll in rigorous coursework.

Additionally, Bragg, Hackmann, and Malin will work together in the future to analyze the extent to which college and career readiness is featured in states’ components and activities while detailing how they represent career readiness in equity-minded ways.

Hackmann said that he, Bragg and Malin have collaborated in the past through their work with the Pathways Resource Center and have a shared interest in college and career readiness, particularly as it relates to equity implications relative to educators’ practices in promoting readiness for all students.

“Debra and Joe are wonderful colleagues, and we hope that our research will influence policy and practice, both within the state of Illinois and nationally,” Hackmann said.

Urban high school principals’ promotion of college-and-career readiness (Joel R. Malin and Donald G. Hackmann)

Enhancing Students’ Transitions to College and Careers: A Case Study of Distributed Leadership Practice in Supporting a High School Career Academy Model (Joel R. Malin and Donald G. Hackmann)

College and Career Readiness and the Every Student Succeeds Act (Joel R. Malin, Debra D. Bragg, and Donald G. Hackmann)