Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Norman St. Clair


Joseph Kuhanek


Emma Santa Maria


In 2020, nearly half of Texas’s 385,000 public high school graduates were unprepared for college-level reading or math. Limited research reveals K-12 faculty perceive limited roles and responsibilities in the college process, relying heavily on guidance counselors and college admissions counselors for preparing students for college and careers. The purpose of this study was to help fill this gap by answering the central research question: How do high school and college-level faculty and staff prepare high school students for college and careers? I chose a qualitative, interpretive design to explore educators’ individual and shared social meanings and interpretations. I used purposeful sampling to identify 10 subjects in South Central Texas who taught math, English language arts, social studies, or science in a high school, community college, university, and regional education agency participating in an alignment partnership in 2019. My data collection included semi-structured interviews, observations, e-mails, and supplemental documents. To study this phenomenon, I incorporated tools from grounded theory informed by Glaser and Strauss, and Charmaz. My data analysis methods involved using Hahn’s coding technique to organize and format large quantities of data for coding. Finally, I also used member checking and triangulation of data to ensure accuracy of my data analysis and to increase validity. The College and Career Readiness Collaborative Theory emerged and illustrates how interaction and dialogue in an alignment partnership led a team of faculty and staff to (a) co-construct meaning, (b) align curriculum, (c) clarify expectations, (d) improve perceptions, and (e) reevaluate teaching decisions to better prepare students for college and careers. This study reinforces the need for faculty and staff collaboration and dialogue to clarify skills gaps in entry level college courses, college level expectations, instruction, meanings, and perceptions of college and career readiness. Finally, the study addresses the pandemic’s impact on college and career readiness and the achievement gap.