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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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images of the characters in the Staying on the Path Toward College Interactive Case

The Staying on the Path Toward College Interactive Case explores how schools and communities can work with Latino families to increase young people’s opportunities to attend college and succeed in life. The transition to middle school is a particularly important juncture along students’ academic pipeline to college, because the courses children take early in their middle school careers begin to influence the college and career paths they will be inclined to pursue. Unfortunately, we also know that a large number of ethnically diverse and low-income youth leave the academic pipeline prematurely. This case is designed to help educators understand the home, school, peer group, and com­munity factors that influence decisions Latino youth might make during the transition to middle school, and it explores ways that families, schools, and youth-serving community organizations can work together to ensure that all children have the opportunity to pursue higher education.

What you will learn
The purpose of this case is to give educators an opportunity to explore the complex relationships among peers, families, educators, and staff from youth-serving organizations that influence whether a student stays the path toward college. You will learn:

  • How different stakeholders, including parents, teachers, peers, and college outreach leaders, can share responsibility and guidance in helping middle school students transition to high school and stay the path toward college;
  • The nature of the transition to middle school as a continuous process that starts in elementary school and continues into the transition  to high school;
  • How school climate can shape the transition to middle school; and
  • How data can guide efforts to increase college going among middle and high school students.

On the pages that follow, you will be introduced to the six people in the case. After you read each person’s narrative, you will have a chance to reflect on her strengths and concerns. You can type your reflections right into the space provided on the webpage. A pop-up box will appear with some ideas you might have written about. You can then move on to reading about the next person in the case and reflect on that person’s ideas. Along the way, you will be provided with some supplementary data to consider. When you have completed reading all of the perspectives, you will have a chance to take a step back and think about the bigger issues presented in the case.

image of Paulo, sixth grader image of Paulo's parents image of Paulo;s math teacher image of college student and family friend of Paulo image of community college outreach program director small image of a data table image of 6 characters in this teaching case
Let's Get Started! Paulo, sixth grader Paulo’s parents Math teacher College student and family friend Community college outreach program director Supporting data Piecing it all together

Explore our Family Engagement Teaching Case series and find out more about our interactive cases. The full-length version of the Staying on the Path Toward College case is available on our website. The original case is featured in the book Preparing Educators to Engage Families: Case Studies Using an Ecological Systems Framework, 3rd edition, available for purchase from Sage Publications.

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project