Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Karen Watt

Second Advisor

Dr. Marie Simonsson

Third Advisor

Dr. Israel Aguilar


Recent research has documented that the socioeconomic context of high schools plays a significant role in students’ postsecondary enrollment outcomes (Engberg & Wolniak, 2014; Roderick et al., 2011; Engberg & Wolniak, 2010; Nuñez & Kim, 2012; Hill, 2008; Perna & Titus, 2005; Perna, 2000), with lower college outcomes occurring due to students at lower SES high schools having lower amounts of capital, less access to rigorous curriculum, and more negative peer influences than students at higher SES high schools. However, absent in these studies is whether efforts of comprehensive college preparation were taking place and if such efforts are also affected by high school socioeconomic context. This quasi-experimental, retrospective cohort study utilized matched comparison groups to investigate the college preparation and readiness of low-income seniors who participated in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college readiness system (ACRS) across different high school settings for different lengths of time. Additionally, this study examined the impact that comprehensive college preparation from the ACRS has on college enrollment.

Findings indicate that low-income AVID seniors in low-SES high schools exhibit significantly higher rates of college preparation (e.g., enrollment in AP/IB courses, completion of the FAFSA, and applying to four-year colleges) than those in high-SES high schools. Findings also suggest that increased dosage of the ACRS positively impacts students’ college readiness across both socioeconomic settings. With regard to college enrollment, low-income AVID seniors attending low-SES and high-SES high schools exhibit comparable outcomes, which suggests that comprehensive college preparation may nullify the negative impacts that recent research (Engberg & Wolniak, 2014; Palardy, 2013; Niu & Tienda, 2012) associates with low-SES high schools. This dissertation concludes that low-income seniors who participate in AVID, especially those in low-SES high school settings who may otherwise have had limited access or activation of various capital and opportunities both in their personal background as well as in school itself, have, as a result of prolonged exposure to the ACRS, acquired such. The ACRS curriculum and training provides educators with guidance toward building students’ capital, positive relationships, and networks of support as they navigate education settings and prepare for their future.


Copyright 2020 Jeffery J. Huerta. All Rights Reserved.