The education pipeline is a way of conceptualizing the process as students move from preschool through high school, and on to pursue post-secondary education opportunities, including college, adult education or pursuing a trade.
The majority of MACC members already have community partnerships and programs that work with youth in pre-school through high school, in addition to a range of adult education programs. These involve academic tutoring, mentoring, college awareness and ESL, among others.
Following the report A Promising Connection: Increasing College Access and Success through Civic Engagement, released in 2011 by Campus Compact, we are challenging MACC members to use civic engagement to support not only prek-12 education, but also to incorporate retention/success/persistence into their civic engagement efforts, both by adding new programs and building a focus on student success into current civic engagement programs.
The Education Pipeline and questions of impact
The question of impact is taking on more urgency, across higher education and for civic engagement programs specifically. Civic engagement programs are expected to demonstrate their impact on their institutions and in their communities. Although accurately assessing civic engagement programs remains challenging, focusing on the PreK through post-secondary pipeline offers the possibility of examining the impact of civic engagement programs through multiple lenses.
Impact in the community – Are programs meeting their goals for their target populations? Measures might include improvements in grades and/or attendance in an afterschool program, increased number of adult students completing an ESL program, or an increased number of high school students pursuing postsecondary education opportunities.
Impact on current college students – How is participating in civic engagement impacting the students involved? What are they learning? How is it contributing to their growth and development? How is it helping them reach their educational goals?
Impact on the higher education institution – How are programs impacting their campuses? Are they contributing to the success and persistence of the students involved? Are they furthering the educational goals of their institution? Are they contributing to the development of a vibrant campus culture?
The Three P’s
Conceptualizing the full scope of the education pipeline can be daunting. It can be helpful to break the work down into three major components.
- Preparation focuses on helping students develop the skills and experiences they need to successfully move through the K-12 system. This often focuses on academic preparation, but can also involve a range of other topics, such as financial literacy, decision making and interpersonal skills.
- Pursuit focuses on supporting students as they take their initial steps to set and pursue their post-secondary education goals. Programs typically target youth in 6th through 12th grade, and include awareness of post-secondary options, finding the right fit, applying for financial aid and scholarships, navigating the application process and preparing for standardized tests.
- Persistence involves support for students currently enrolled in college, and might involve peer-to-peer programming or incorporating support services for the college students working with civic engagement programs.