High school teachers' perceptions of their knowledge of public postsecondary education in Georgia
Finnell, Alicia Michelle
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Persistent poverty is a serious problem in Georgia. Education, especially postsecondary education, could be the key to breaking poverty cycles and putting Georgia’s youth on track to build the wealth they need to get out of poverty and stay out. Teachers are information brokers, role models, and strong supports for students from low-income backgrounds (Ellis & Lane, 1963, Peters, 2008). This puts teachers in a unique position to affect change in the lives of these students by encouraging them to pursue some form of education beyond high school (Choy, Horn, Nunez, & Chen, 2000). However, to appropriately advise students, teachers need accurate and up-to-date college knowledge. This survey study examined the perceptions high school teachers in selected persistent poverty counties in Georgia had about their college knowledge and to discover how often these teachers shared this college knowledge with the students they taught. The sample for this study was 257 high school teachers who teach in selected persistent poverty counties in Georgia. Seventy-seven point eight percent of the desired sample participated in the study. Survey research revealed that the majority of teachers perceived that one of their roles as a high school teacher was to assist students in making informed decisions about postsecondary education and careers. However, college and career guidance was incorporated into only 41.4% of teachers’ teacher preparation programs. Teachers’ major source of college knowledge information was the Internet. They possessed the most college knowledge and shared most frequently information about their state’s high school graduation requirements. They knew least about and least frequently shared information about the transfer of postsecondary education credit. There was a high positive correlation between teachers’ college knowledge and their frequency of college knowledge sharing. Analyses determined that there was no statistically significant difference in teachers’ college knowledge or frequency of college knowledge sharing based on their teaching area. Details revealing the college knowledge of these teachers are shared. Recommendations to increase teachers’ college knowledge are also provided.