Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Jared Schlenker


The aim of this dissertation was to analyze efforts at the time of this study to vertically align curricula between secondary and post-secondary institutions and then analyze how much needs to be done to close the gap in curricular and performance expectations as students transition to higher education. To narrow the focus, this dissertation specifically followed English content and coursework, but ideas could be conveyed to other topic areas as well. Across the nation, students have been continuing to complete their high school graduation requirements but have been struggling to transfer their knowledge and performance to the next level as there has been an increasing number of students needing remedial coursework upon entry into post-secondary institutions. This has held true in South Dakota as well. By achieving a better grasp of where high school standards end and introductory college standards begin, we can work to close the gap and better align coursework between the two levels of education, opening the door to more student success. This gap sheds light on a growing spread between high school and college level standards and the negative effect it has on student success but shows that efforts can help bridge that gap. High school and college-level institutions should be working cooperatively together rather than as two separate entities that happen to serve the same population. This study adds information to our understanding of what was in place at the time of this study, what resources we have that can aid us in improving the problem at hand, and what needs to be done for more effective practices.

Results of the analysis show that some standards and efforts transfer over to the post-secondary level such as reading literature and reading informational text. However, some skills show significant opportunities for improvement. Language as well as speaking and listening were two standards college professors identified as in need of the most work. At the post-secondary level, students were showing a lack of grammatical command and willingness to contribute to discussions among other skills that fell under the language and speaking and listening standards. These are standards that may need a bit more attention at the high school level, hopefully producing more proficiency for students entering their post-secondary education.