Academic Pathways to Access and Student Success (APASS)

Faculty and staff associated with the Higher Education Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign identified, examined, and disseminated information about new and emerging Academic Pathways that extend from high school to college and enhance postsecondary access for underrepresented minority, low income, and first-generation students. By academic pathways, we mean boundary spanning curriculum and organizational structures that facilitate students’ seamless transition across educational levels. Examples include middle and early college high schools, dual credit programs, Tech Prep, and selected career academies. This project was conducted under sponsorship from Lumina Foundation for Education.


  1. To conduct a comprehensive search of all 50 states to inventory new and emerging academic pathways/curricular models.
  2. To describe academic pathways/curricular models that appear to be particularly effective in improving students’ access to college and their subsequent success.
  3. To depict the federal, state, and local policy environment including legislation and regulations that enhance or inhibit the development of these academic pathways.
  4. To disseminate results of all aspects of this project widely utilizing a variety of methods, media, and approaches.

Project Profile

With assistance from a committee of nationally recognized experts on high school to college transition, the project had two stages: From February to July 2004, we identified a broad range and quantity of programs with boundary spanning academic pathways, and individual interviews were conducted with three groups of people: policy makers associated with state secondary and higher education boards, foundations supporting educational innovations, and other organizations offering high school-to-college transition programs. Based on their responses, surveys were administered to local program administrators in written form, via the Internet, and through telephone interviews. Information was compiled into a summary document, published in print form and posted on the project website. From August to December 2004, with the assistance of our national advisory committee, six to eight programs were identified for in-depth study. These were selected using criteria related to quality, effectiveness, and replicability. A diversity of models and policy environments were sought. Project staff visited local programs to document context, policies, practices, and outcomes. Results of the qualitative visits have been summarized and disseminated, and a series of practitioner-oriented briefs were posted on the project website. Throughout the project, attention was paid to federal, state, and local legislation, regulations, and events that play a role in shaping new pathway models. A policy brief and related materials have been distributed via the website. This project fits into ongoing research and development efforts of the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) and participating faculty and research staff. To further a national agenda that promotes access to college through the utilization of the best of new academic pathways, support has been sought to conduct in-depth evaluation of the most promising models, policies and practices discovered through this project.

Voices and Viewpoints

APASS Publications

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