What We Are Reading: International Assessments, Common Core, College and Career Exploration Programs, Graduation Rates

Looking for new high school-related resources? Here are some pieces that other organizations have recently released:*

What Do International Tests Really Show About U.S. Student Performance? (Economic Policy Institute, January 15, 2013). This report examines TIMMS and PIRLS data to conclude, in general, that test data are too complex and oversimplified to permit meaningful policy conclusions regarding U.S. educational performance without deeper study of test results and methodology. However, a clear set of findings stands out and is supported by all data researchers have available.

On the Road to Assessing Deeper Learning: The Status of Smarter Balanced and PARCC Assessment Consortia (National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, & Student Testing, January 16, 2013). This report summarizes findings thus far, describing the evidence-centered design framework guiding assessment development for both Smarter Balanced and PARCC, and each consortium’s plans for system development and validation. It also provides an initial evaluation of the status of deeper learning represented in both consortia’s plans.

Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking (National Education Policy Center, January 17, 2013). The fifth in a series of briefs summarizing education policy research advises policymakers on how to decrease dropout rates. Adults lacking a high school diploma suffer from dramatically lower wages—on average only slightly more than half the average wages for high school graduates—and poorer life chances, with lower employment rates, poorer health histories and greater rates of incarceration.

Making It Happen: How Career Academies Can Build College and Career Exploration Programs (MDRC, January 2013). With a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education, MDRC and its project partner Bloom Associates piloted a program to help academies build college and career exploration programs. If the program is fully implemented, by the time students graduate from a career academy, they will have received up to 44 lessons, participated in at least two visits to work sites and two to college campuses, and completed a six-week compensated internship. This report summarizes findings from a three-year study of 18 academies in three states — California, Florida, and Georgia — that implemented the program from 2009 through 2012.

U.S High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations (The National Bureau of Economic Research, January 2013). The author of this whitepaper surveys the evidence on patterns in U.S. high school graduation rates over the period 1970-2010 and reports the results of new research conducted to fill in holes in the evidence. He describes six striking patterns in graduation rates. They include stagnation over the last three decades of the twentieth century; significant race-,income-, and gender-based gaps; and significant increases in graduation rates over the first decade of the twenty-first century, especially among blacks and Hispanics.

*Resource descriptions provided by the sponsoring organization.


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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