In 2014, the American Association of Community
Colleges (AACC) and AASA, The School
Superintendents Association, began collaborating to
improve college readiness among students. Teams of
K- 12 superintendents and community college presidents have attended AACC/AASA-hosted meetings
to shared promising practices that have increased
student success. Much of the discussion in the past
few years has centered around dual enrollment.
AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech spoke
with Community College Journal about the importance of K-12/community college collaboration,
overcoming challenges and striving for K- 14.
CCJ: Why is it important for K- 12 leaders and
community college leaders to collaborate?
Domenech: I’ve always felt that there is a line
between K- 12 and community colleges that stands
in the way of the kind of continuity and collab-
oration that should be a part of education. We
strive for K- 14, as opposed to K- 12. That’s one of the
primary reasons why [AACC President and CEO
Walter Bumphus] and I decided to do the conven-
ings we’ve now been doing for five years. What
we’ve seen in that period of time is significant
growth. The collaboration and the communica-
tion that now exists has really been rewarding
and effective. It’s important to blur that division
line between K- 12 and community colleges, and
have it be a continuous operation.
CCJ: What are some positive practices you’ve seen
come from these collaborations?
Domenech: We have seen a significant increase
in the number of programs that require and call
for collaboration between the two systems. Most
critical and important are the dual enrollment
programs that have grown significantly as a result
of the work we’ve been doing. Along with that,
we’ve seen the number of K- 12 students graduating high school with an associate degree grow, as
well as the number of K- 12 students going on to
college after graduation. Collaboration also has
led to more opportunities for students to become
more familiar with higher education by touring
campuses and visiting college classes. It’s a motivational tool to get these kids to think about going
on to get a degree.
CCJ: What are common challenges to such
partnerships? And how have schools and colleges
approached or overcome them?
Domenech: The challenges when we began were
many. It’s not to say that they have disappeared,
but what we have seen is a desire and a willingness
on the part of superintendents and presidents to
resolve these issues. Particularly when it comes to
dual enrollment, a key issue then, and still today, is
who pays for this? Is it the high school or the students and parents, or the college? That’s a key issue,
but it’s been resolved in different ways, depending
on the community. The issue here is that we’re
coming together to resolve these challenges.
Another issue is who teaches it? A high school
teacher or the college faculty? These are logistics
that need to be resolved. It’s a smorgasbord of how
it’s done; sometimes it’s a combination of both.
The issue of accreditation also is still a concern. It
mostly requires that if a college course is taught by