Teachers College, Columbia University

Community College and Secondary School Collaboration on Workforce Development and Education Reform: A Close Look at Four Community Colleges

By Terry Orr

Increased emphasis on workforce preparation for the nation's youth, particularly for mid-level and higher skill development, requires greater postsecondary educational preparation and an expansion of the role of community colleges in school reform and school-to-work transitions.

Local, state, and federal reform initiatives—particularly Tech Prep, part of the Vocational Education Act; the School-to-Work Opportunities Act (STWOA); and the Goals 2000: Educate America Act—directly and indirectly press community colleges and secondary schools to be more closely coordinated. Drawing on data from site visits to four community colleges, the authors of this paper examine how community colleges are responding to these pressures.

The four colleges engaged in a wide variety of collaborative activities with secondary schools. These cases demonstrate not just the feasibility of collaboration but also the creativity and variability of possible approaches.