Doing What Works Resources: Prepare Students Academically

In a previous post, Marlene Darwin of the Doing What Works Initiative introduced their new online resource, Helping Students Navigate the Path to College.  This is one in a series of follow up posts describing the content of that resource. In order to ensure all students are academically prepared to graduate high school and enter postsecondary education, many students need support in selecting courses throughout high school that will academically prepare them for college or career and technical education.  The first recommendation from the Doing What Works website, under the topic “Helping Students Navigate the Path to College,” is to prepare students academically.   The website offers a multimedia presentation on Academic Preparation for College that outlines key actions that schools and districts can take to prepare students for postsecondary education. The Learn What Works section provides information on the research base that supports these actions. There are three key concepts supported by research:
  • Implement a curriculum that prepares all students for college and offers opportunities for college-level work. In the video, Getting Students to Think for Themselves, an English teacher illustrates the ways that his high school incorporates rigor into its curriculum.
  • Ensure that students understand what constitutes a college-ready curriculum. At University Park High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, the school has redesigned its senior year to better prepare students for college. Watch Senior Year Redesign and view the sample material, The Senior Year: Smoothing the Transition to College.
  • Work with each ninth grader to develop a four-year course trajectory that leads to fulfilling a college-ready curriculum. Listen to the audio interview, Assigning Students to the Right Classes, in which the chair of a large comprehensive high school talks about the school's process for scheduling students in the right academic classes to prepare them for college.
Under the Do What Works section, you will find Ideas for Action and Tools and Templates to better prepare students academically. Teachers can conduct a self-assessment to determine the level of rigor in their courses and counselors can access a freshman year planning tool. Principals and counselors can find resources to help them answer such questions as: To learn more about Doing What Works and the resources provided on the website, you can watch this Guided Site Tour. Guest Author: Marlene Darwin is a Senior Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research. She is the co-project director for the Doing What Works Initiative. Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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