Doing What Works: Secondary Content Professional Development Package

The U.S. Department of Education recently released a professional development resource through Doing What Works (DWW) and the National High School Center.  Research-Based Practices for Secondary Schools Professional Development Package contains materials needed to conduct six professional development sessions on implementing research-based practices in secondary schools for three topics: Adolescent Literacy, Dropout Prevention, and Helping Student Navigate the Path to College. Additionally, a supplemental module on the National High School Early Warning System Tool 2.0 is included to facilitate the implementation of the practices. 

The professional development package contains six one to three hour modules on recommended practices and includes interactive opportunities for participants to view media and try out tools. The six modules are appropriate for a range of audiences, including professional development and technical assistance providers, principals and reading specialists, teacher leaders and coaches, and classroom teachers. High school content area teachers can also benefit from learning about these practices and should be encouraged to participate in staff development sessions. Modules can be conducted as standalone workshops or presentations or can be combined for a full day professional development, depending on the audience and the length of time available for the presentation.

  • Module 1 introduces DWW, highlights the website’s special features, and demonstrates how resources within each practice are organized.
  • Module 2 addresses adolescent literacy and goes into depth on four adolescent literacy practices.
  • Module 3 focuses on implementing effective dropout prevention practices for both schoolwide and targeted approaches.
  • Module 4 covers the topic, Helping Students Navigate the Path to College. This module addresses four research-based practices for increasing students’ access to postsecondary education.
  • Module 5 demonstrates how resources from the three topics can be integrated into one workshop addressing an overall approach to implementing the practices. This module focuses on using data and providing targeted interventions to support students in developing literacy skills, staying in school, and being prepared for postsecondary education. 
  • Module 6 features the National High School Center Early Warning System (EWS) Tool 2.0.[1] It includes the tool, a Technical Manual, and the Early Warning System Implementation Guide. The EWS Tool v2.0 enables schools and districts to identify students who may be at risk of dropping out of high school and to monitor these students’ responses to interventions.

More information about the professional development modules can be found at:

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.

[1] Since this professional development package was developed, the National High School Center has released a new version of the EWS Tool. To access the most updated version, please visit our website:

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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