Evaluation of academic policy formulation and implementation Transmountain Early College High School, El Paso, Texas

Virginia Margaret Heidemann, University of Texas at El Paso


Transmountain Early College High School (TMECHS) opened in August 2008, created by a partnership between the El Paso Community College (EPCC) and the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD), and supported in its conceptualization, start-up, and first few years operation by grant funding and guidance from the Texas High School Project (THSP) and its major foundation funding partners, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and Communities Foundation of Texas. TMECHS is a T-STEM early college high school located in a large city on the U.S.-Mexico border. ^ As educational institutions begin implementation of ambitious reform such as that which provides the foundation for TMECHS, focus is inevitably on efficient, comprehensive design, yet even with reflection and ongoing revision of processes, there may not be sufficient opportunity to step back to view and evaluate processes and procedures with an unbiased, discerning eye. ECHSI and T-STEM policies are laid out in official documentation based on core values and criteria, federal and state public school requirements, and independent school district policies, but individually, schools are not only bound and guided by policy, but are designed, organized, and run based on discussions, negotiations, and decisions guided by funding agencies and made by local partners and school administrators. Organizational constraints, as well as a variety of ongoing and reflective decisions, continually impact processes. ^ This study was designed to evaluate how T-STEM and ECHSI goals and requirements were merged and formulated into processes by partners and administrators, then translated in implementation at a new early college high school. Data with regard to academic policy formulation and implementation was collected via open-ended interviews with administrators and document review. The principal investigator was a teacher at the school and so applied her own insight while avoiding bias. Analysis was conducted to build a case study and was guided by co-construction theory to reveal how actors and contexts interacted in a dynamic multi-directional manner to influence policy generalities and specifics. Research revealed the policies, people and places that shaped the formulation and implementation of policies tied to academics at TMECHS. Major and minor issues relative to the merging of high school and college with a T-STEM focus were many and varied, but partners, faculty, and staff applied sound practices to address challenges and to support one other in the development and operation of the school. Future studies are recommended to build on the knowledge gained; studies that would allow educators to gather additional perspectives from teachers, students, and family members on process design and efficacy. Data could then be correlated with demographics and outcomes. ^ Several potential recommendations for partners and staff emerged out of themes and their associated challenges. While partners attempted to anticipate and address challenges conscientiously and comprehensively, revision to current strategies and processes that were originally conceptualized and specified in the planning stages pursuant to grant funding requirements and the interlocal agreement between EPISD and EPCC are recommended. These recommendations include amending admissions and recruitment policies, expanding degree options and enhancing associated counseling strategies, adding options for college readiness preparation, and increasing online and distance learning course options.^

Subject Area

Education, Evaluation|Education, Leadership|Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Heidemann, Virginia Margaret, "Evaluation of academic policy formulation and implementation Transmountain Early College High School, El Paso, Texas" (2010). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3409156.