Grantee Research Proposal: High School to Community College Program – Preparing for Transition

By Daniela Azuela; Becky May; Rina Ortega

    Grantee Research Proposal: High School to Community College Program – Preparing for Transition

    About the Practitioner-Researcher

    Daniela Azuela; Becky May; Rina Ortega
    School Counselor-in-Training; Career and College Specialist; English Language Specialist
    Fremont, CA, US
    Daniela Azuela; Becky May; Rina Ortega

    Daniela Azuela: I was born in San Jose, California, and moved to Leon Guanajuato, Mexico, when I was 10 years old. I then returned to San Jose when I was 16 years old. Having to move twice and being an English Language Learner was a challenge. Being a first generation student I had to adapt and learn the educational system, which wasn’t always easy. I now am working towards my Master’s in Counseling at California State University, East Bay. My experiences have inspired me to work with students in providing them with the support and resources they need for a successful post-secondary transition. These experiences also led me to engage in this action research, in which I collaborated with two colleagues to implement a Community College Transition Program for Latina/o seniors.

    Becky May: After graduating from the College of Notre Dame with a B.S. degree in Behavioral Science, I worked in social services with senior citizens at the Senior Center of Palo Alto and taught at Washington Hospital and Palo Alto Medical Foundation as a Childbirth Educator. I began working as the Registrar at a high school in Fremont Unified School District in 2008. Since 2015 I have been the Career and College Specialist at this High School. In this action research, I will collaborate with Ms. Azuela as a specialist in career guidance and college information.

    Rina Ortega: After immigrating to the U.S. from Honduras 32 years ago, I earned an A.A. degree in Business Administration from Chabot College. Later on, I acquired a B.A. in Spanish with a Minor in American Sign Language. I also obtained my Bilingual Teaching Credential, a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and an Administrative Credential from California State University, East Bay. My passion is working with Second Language Learners as a Dual Spanish Immersion School educator, and currently, as an English Language Development Specialist at a high school in Fremont, California.

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    Rowell Collaborative Action Research Grant Awardee Proposal

    Project Summary

    The main goal of the project is to provide high-school seniors with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in their educational experience once they move on to community college. Students will participate in guidance lessons, online application exercises, and group discussions. By the end of the program, seniors will understand the community college system and the transfer process to a 4-year university. The program also will provide information on the steps required for early registration in community colleges and on financial aid applications as well as special programs such as the Puente Project and Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS).

    Project Context

    In the 2014-2015 Fact Sheet for the High School, only 45.7% of students met the A-G requirements which meant that 54.3% of students were not eligible to attend a 4-year university. However, these students were eligible to attend a 2-year college to commence their higher education experience. With 15.4% of the student population identified as English Language Learners (ELLs), I want to examine how many ELLs who are also Latina/o are not A-G eligible and whether they can benefit from an increased awareness of college preparedness by participating in a community college transition program. The combination of the ELL and Latina/o students and the low rate of A-G eligibility at this school provide the context for my action research. By collaborating with the English Language Specialist and the Career and College Specialist who can provide in-depth knowledge in their areas, I plan to examine barriers that this group of students faces and develop a customized support system on these specific problem areas.

    Project Significance and Research Plan

    Project Significance

    Research suggests that students who participate in transitional programs during high school benefit tremendously (Fowler & Luna, 2011). Studies demonstrated that participants in transitional programs have increased their academic achievement and have ensured a successful transition into high school and beyond (Karp & Hughes, 2008). This project is significant as there is a lack of studies on the effect of such programs on Latina/o English Language Learners (ELLs). The project will bridge these students’ moving up from high school to community college in hopes of preventing dropout and failure to achieve a certificate, Associate’s Degree or transfer to a 4-year university.

    Research Plan


    The participants will consist of 14 seniors (5 males and 9 females; 17 to 18 years old) at a high school in Fremont, California. The participants include the Latina/o English Language Learners who are not eligible for 4-year universities based on their transcripts, except for one, who is an ELL and has demonstrated interest in pursuing an educational experience at a community college. Included also will be a few ELL seniors who are not eligible to graduate high school but may benefit from a transitional program.

    Program Description and Implementation

    This program will consist of 7 guidance lessons and workshops focused on providing students with background information about various community colleges in the region, the transfer process, special programs and resources available, and the early registration process. These lessons will be implemented monthly, bimonthly and/or trimonthly from January 2017 until March 2017 with participating seniors. An English Language Specialist will assist me in the guidance lessons with scaffolding so that all participating students are engaged and understand the material. She will provide me with the students’ English language levels so I can accommodate the lessons to students’ English proficiency. The action research will be conducted on Wednesdays during Home Room in the Career Center. The school’s Career and College Specialist, another collaborator in the project, will provide me with current and relevant college information and website links so I can include the information in the guidance lessons. The career and college specialist also will assist with the design and facilitation of one session about financial aid that will be offered to students and their parents. This session will be conducted in Spanish. The sessions include:

    • Session 1: Introduction to the Community College Program
    • Session 2: Understanding the Community College Process
    • Session 3: What Community College should I attend?
    • Session 4: Financial Aid Workshop (for students). Financial Aid Workshop for parents will be held in Spanish in the library after school.
    • Session 5: Placement Tests Overview Session
    • Session 6: Special Programs Workshop
    • Session 7: Final Steps Workshop

    Additionally, students will also be invited to attend four Community College Application Labs (CCLB) to receive additional support and guidance in the application process. Before attending the CCLB, students first attend the guidance lessons and workshops during Home Room so they are provided with the necessary information that they will be using during the Community College Application Labs that will take place during lunch or after school depending on student’s availability. The lab activities include:

    • CCLB 1: Online Enrollment, College and Career Exploration
    • CCLB 2: Creating the FSA ID and Questions Regarding FAFSA/California Dream Act Applications
    • CCLB 3: Drop-in, Scholarships, Additional Questions
    • CCLB 4: Special Program Applications

    Data Collection and Analysis

    I will keep a record of students’ completion of the online application, financial aid application, fulfillment of the early registration process, and how many students applied to special support programs offered at Community Colleges such as the Puente Project and EOPS. I will also examine the effects of the transition program on the participating seniors utilizing a post survey.

    Anticipated Research Outcome

    By providing students with the necessary knowledge and skills for community college preparedness, I anticipate students will complete the online application and financial aid application as well as completing all of the steps for the early registration process which includes taking the placement test, attending orientation at the community college, and establishing an educational goal.


    Karp, M. M., & Hughes, K. L. (2008). Supporting college transitions through collaborative programming: A conceptual model of guiding policy. Teachers College Record, 110(4), 838-866.

    Fowler, M., & Luna, G. (2011). Evaluation of achieving a college education plus: A credit-based transition program. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 35(9), 673-688, doi: 10.1080/10668920903527050

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