Many jobs require some type of post-secondary degree or specialized training beyond high school, therefore addressing college and career readiness concepts at an early age may influence young children’s future success. This mixed-methods authentic case study explores the implementation and challenges of introducing a structured framework to enhance the culture of universal achievement at one non-profit preschool in a rural hub city. The research site is non-profit preschool accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) which serves predominantly low-income families. The purpose of the study was to discover how the core beliefs of the No Excuses University (NEU) program have influenced awareness of post-secondary opportunities and prospects for educational achievement. Participants included 18 preschool faculty/staff members, 37 parents of preschool students, and 31 preschool students. Adult participants answered online survey questions, while preschool students responded to face-to-face interview questions. Analysis of the collected data revealed that fostering a culture of universal achievement in a preschool setting can enhance young students’ and their families’ awareness of future educational opportunities, increase communication regarding long-term post-secondary goals, and support the development of a positive future story. Conclusions drawn from this study indicate that implementing a structured framework that addresses a variety of educational opportunities can positively influence the child, their parents, members of the school faculty, and the local community. Strategies and effective approaches executed by the preschool include the use of powerful symbolism and multi-faceted collaboration. Some untold challenges to program implementation are discussed. The implications from this research study on early exposure to college and career readiness concepts are applicable to many fields of study.

Key Take Away Points

  • Strategies for supporting college and career readiness for young students and their families.
  • Discussion of the opportunities and the challenges of launching a structured framework to enhance a culture of universal achievement at the preschool level.
  • Ideas about how educators can honor cultural diversity and uphold equity while motivating and inspiring young children’s future identities.

Author Biography

Dr. Betty Coneway is an associate professor of Literacy and Early Childhood Education at West Texas A & M University (WTAMU). She chairs the graduate Curriculum & Instruction Reading Program and is the undergraduate team lead for the WTAMU Educator Preparation Program. Her research interests include emergent writing, dyslexia, and teachers education. She is a former early childhood classroom teacher and district curriculum specialist. You may reach her at bconeway@wtamu.edu. Dr. Sang Hwang is a professor in the Department of Education at West Texas A & M University. Her research interests include early intervention, reading strategies, dyslexia, refugee literature, the use of technology, and ESL methodology. Dr. Hwang serves as a coordinator in the America Reads Program at West Texas A&M University and you may reach her at shwang@wtamu.edu. Jill Goodrich is the Executive Director of Opportunity School, a NAEYC accredited preschool in Amarillo, Texas. Prior to joining the Opportunity School team, Jill served as a volunteer on the board for six years, and then she followed her passion to serve children and families. Jill is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and from West Texas A & M University with a Master of Business Administration. Jill and her husband, Russ are active in church and community activities with their four children ages 18 to 11 years. Jill serves on the TXAEYC Board of Directors as the Panhandle Chapter Representative. You may contact her at jillgoodrich@opportunityschool.com Lyounghee Kim, M.A. is a research assistant in the Department of Education at West Texas A & M University. Her research interests focus on the potential roles of education and communication among marginalized populations. You may reach her at lyoung.lkim@gmail.com Emilee Egbert is currently an educator in Lubbock ISD. She is a former research assistant in the Department of Education at West Texas A & M University. You may reach her at emileeegbert@gmail.com


We want to thank the West Texas A & M University Center for Learning Disabilities for their ongoing support of this research project.