Follow-up Survey of the June 1988 and June 1989 Graduates of the California Partnership Academies

Charles Dayton
University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Education
David Stern
University of California, Berkeley


This study compares the post-secondary experiences of members of the first two graduating classes of a number of the California Partnership Academies with their matched comparison groups. It examines experiences related to school and work for these graduates. A description of the Academy model is presented, followed by a summary of the prior in-school evaluation findings. The procedures in this follow-up study are described, with one strong caution: The study deliberately examined only graduates, and because the Academy groups are known to have had lower dropout rates than their comparison group counterparts, this probably introduces a conservative bias in the findings. That is, if high school dropouts had been included, differences in favor of the Academy students probably would have been larger because there were more dropouts from the comparison groups.

With a few exceptions, Academy and comparison group graduates surveyed in this study are following parallel courses after they graduate. Specifically:

  • About two-thirds of both groups are enrolled in school the first year after graduation, a figure which drops somewhat the second year, but remains above half;

  • About two-thirds of both groups are also working the first year after graduation, a figure which holds steady the second year for Academy graduates and drops slightly for comparison graduates;

  • About four-fifths of those enrolled in school from both groups attend community colleges;

  • More Academy graduates plan on earning a four-year degree (61 percent versus 52 percent), a disparity that widens among those actually enrolled in a degree program (63 percent versus 50 percent); in contrast, more comparison graduates plan on earning a graduate degree (26 percent versus 15 percent);

  • About three-fourths of enrolled students attend school full time from both groups;

  • While most of those working found their jobs either through a friend or relative, or directly through an employer, a significantly larger fraction of Academy graduates got help from their high school (18 percent versus 7 percent);

  • Academy graduates who are working put in an average of about three and a half more hours of work per week; this difference is statistically significant, but there is no significant difference in hourly earnings;

  • Significantly more Academy graduates are working in jobs related to their high school training (55 percent versus 28 percent);

  • Both Academy and comparison group graduates rate their high school preparation and how they are doing currently as "fairly well" (the second highest rating on a five-point scale).

Because this general lack of differences between the two groups runs counter to the findings of several in-school evaluations of Partnership Academies, possible reasons for this finding are suggested.

  • Limitations of the study may have obscured real differences. These limitations include (1) the ignoring of dropouts, more of whom came from the comparison groups; (2) the survey's response rate; (3) "noise" in the data that make it difficult to find statistically significant differences.

  • The fact that the program ceases to operate at the point of graduation, which would lead one to expect a weakening of effect at this point.

  • The possibility that there are differences between the two groups that are more subtle than those detectable by simple measures of enrollment patterns or hours worked and wages earned, such as the greater correspondence found between high school training and subsequent work among Academy graduates, which may lead to differences further in the future.

It is important to recognize that the absence of major advantages for Academy students after they graduate from high school does not signify failure of the Academy programs. Previous evaluations have demonstrated that Academy students perform better in high school, and are more likely to graduate, than students in the comparison groups. The fact that Academy graduates are doing equally well as comparison students in the first year or two after graduation indicates that this gain in performance during high school was not obtained merely by lowering standards or diluting the curriculum in Academy programs. There is no evidence that Academy graduates are viewed as holding second-rate diplomas, or that Academy programs have achieved higher graduation rates at the expense of lower success rates after high school.

Suggested citationDayton, C., & Stern, D. (1991, September). Follow-up survey of the June 1988 and June 1989 graduates of the California Partnership Academies [Report]. Policy Analysis for California Education.