Race to the Top Round Two Finalists: High School Highlights (HI-MA)

This is the third in a four-part series on the Race to the Top (RTTT) Round Two finalists. Below, we highlight examples of high school strategies described in six of the RTTT finalists’ proposals.[1]

Hawaii plans make their “college- and career-ready,” STEM-aligned Recognition Diploma mandatory for all students entering high school in SY2014-15. Additionally, a new data system will include a college and career access web portal that will help school staff, students, and parents plan for college and career, as well as spot early warning indicators signaling whether students are on track for graduating. High school end-of-course exams will also be developed to provide early readiness indicators for college-level courses.

Participating LEAs in Illinois have agreed to implement Programs of Study as a framework for high school reform, which will include implementation of education and career guidance systems. High schools will be required to form partnerships with postsecondary institutions to increase dual credit opportunities and improve the transition to postsecondary education. Illinois also plans to use RTTT funding to support the establishment of regional delivery systems for re-enrolling students who have dropped out of school.

Kentucky plans to expand the provision of challenging courses to students so that they graduate ready for college and career through the expansion of the following programs: helping schools engage students in Advanced Placement (AP) courses and improve AP exams results; extending the Project Lead the Way curriculum to additional high schools; integrating Kentucky Virtual School services in programs to provide access to an expanded curriculum, options for credit recovery, and increased instructional support for at-risk students; and growing adoption and usage of Individual Learning Plans that facilitate customized learning paths.

Louisiana will expand both AP course offerings and end-of-course assessments in high schools. The state’s Annual Student Progress Report will use student indicators to let parents, teachers, and school staff know whether each student is on track or at risk for meeting major milestones such as grade promotion, graduation, grade-level expectations, etc.

Plans in Maryland include aligning their PreK–12 standards with postsecondary admission standards; redesigning high school graduation requirements; creating an assessment that will gauge students’ college readiness; and adding a college-ready and STEM-ready endorsement to the high school diploma. An Instructional Improvement System will be developed and used as part of a process for strengthening classroom instruction to help all students leave high school ready for college and careers. Additionally, STEM internships, co-ops, or lab experiences will be made available to all interested high school students.

Massachusetts will offer pre-AP training for teachers and establish STEM-focused Early College High Schools to expose more students to rigorous curricula. The state also plans to make MassCore, the current recommended high school curriculum for college and career readiness, the default curriculum. Massachusetts also will use RTTT funding to offer professional development and training for high school counselors related to college and career planning.

Many similar programs are evident in other states’ proposals as well. We will be continuing to discuss application highlights for the remainder of this week[2], and will be following RTTT as funds are awarded and put to use.

[1] Alphabetically, not by preliminary score.

[2] Click here to see other parts of the Race To the Top Round Two Finalists series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4

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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