Race to the Top Round Two Finalists: High School Highlights (NJ-SC)

This is the final of a four-part series on the Race to the Top (RTTT) Round Two finalists.[1] Below, we highlight examples of high school strategies described in seven of the RTTT finalists’ proposals.[2]

New Jersey will prepare more students for advanced study and careers in mathematics and science by building broader STEM-based programs that teach skills inside and out of the classroom. For instance, a future Science and Mathematics Educators Program (SMEP) will be developed to provide students with opportunities to participate in research-based summer- and extended-learning opportunities that develop their content knowledge and provide them with mentoring and tutoring while still in high school.

New York will integrate an Early Warning System into its P-16 longitudinal data system by September 2011. It will include the early indicators (some as early as elementary school) that predict the likelihood that a student will drop out prior to completing middle and/or high school. Such indicators include absences, frequency of disciplinary actions, number of credits accumulated, below-average performance on 8th grade and other state and local assessments, overage status, and status of English language learners (ELLs) who are not making adequate progress in English language acquisition.

North Carolina will build a network of STEM-themed high schools throughout the state. Each will focus on a specific theme, such as biotechnology or aerospace, tied to the economic development of the region. The first cohort of these schools will serve as anchor schools in networks of STEM-themed schools, providing exemplary curriculum, serving as residency sites for participants in regional leadership academies, providing opportunities for professional development for teachers, and serving as test-beds for innovation practices in STEM education.

Ohio will provide additional funds to expand several programs, such as AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), Early College High Schools, and Advanced Placement (AP) that are already in place and have been successful throughout the state.  RTTT funding will be used to increase access to AP course work in districts and charter schools with high concentrations of underrepresented students, and will support professional development to help schools build at least three AP courses per school by the end of the RTTT grant period. One hundred high schools that offer fewer than three AP courses will be targeted and schools that represent high concentrations of students who are generally underrepresented in AP classes will be of highest priority.

Pennsylvania plans to use RTTT funds to create a catalogue of 12 high rigor online courses – four each year for three years – that will be available to all students across the state. This online course catalogue will be a cost effective resource for improving academic rigor in small, rural, and low-wealth school districts where rigorous courses are not available due to lack of resources. Another purpose for the funds will be to help students with disabilities in schools that may not currently have enough resources to support all their needs.  

Rhode Island will implement the Rhode Island Education Research Agenda through its Research Collaborative of Rhode Island. Race to the Top funding will allow the Collaborative to develop a model for predicting post-high school outcomes and incorporate high-quality longitudinal data on high school students’ academic performance with the behaviors, environments, and processes that have been shown to predict college and career readiness.

Under the SC Course Alignment Project (SC CAP), South Carolina will bring together high school and college faculty to examine the scope and sequence of high school and college courses in the same disciplines, and work to align exit-level high school courses with entry-level college course in English/language arts, mathematics, and science. The initiative will realign the college readiness standards to the enhanced Common Core State Standards, amend the paired course curricula to those standards, and create rubrics to scale-up best practices.

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.

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.

[1] Click here to see other parts of the Race To the Top Round Two Finalists series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

[2] Alphabetically, not by preliminary score.


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