Pathways to college : an analysis of the technical, cultural and political domains of the YES College Prep model
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This study sought to identify characteristics found within technical, cultural and political dimensions of the YES College Prep middle school model that typify the college-going culture of the organization. This qualitative study utilized grounded theory and ethnographic approaches in a three-phase research plan seeking to answer the question: How can the college-going culture of the YES Prep Middle School System be described, and what characteristics of the school model can be useful for building college-going cultures in mainstream schools? Teachers and administrators were the primary units of study, and data was collected in the form of documents, interviews and ethnographic field notes. Data from phases two and three built upon theories developed in phase one. Using Kirst, Venezia and Antonio’s typology of college-going cultures, YES College Prep schools fell under the category of schools with strong college-going cultures. Five dominant themes emerged as all three phases of research were synthesized: (a) student achievement, (b) quality teaching, (c) exposure and opportunities to learn, (d) college-going discourses, and (e) unified mission. Characteristics holding potential relevance for mainstream schools were the unified mission, academic rigor, the extended day and year, the Comprehensive Counseling Model, the Teacher Excellence Program and the people-oriented business model. This study adds to the body of research demarcating middle school as a critical point in the educational continuum. The YES College Prep model provides usefulness for researchers interested in such areas as organizational culture, educational pipeline models, and middle school reform models.