Helping Students Get a Head Start on the "Real World": State Strategies for Early High School Graduation

This brief challenges the need for a fourth year of high school, addressing the controversy around “senior year” and its tendency to draw out the high school experience. In proposing the topic of early graduation, the document outlines a number of policy approaches and their successful implementation in various states. Among these programs are scholarship incentives, dual enrollment, virtual classes, and proficiency-based credits.

Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Southwest Bridge Event on College Readiness in Rural Schools

Preparing students for college and careers includes exposing them to a range of educational and employment opportunities. In rural communities, the geographic distance to universities and businesses can present a challenge for students and schools. However, strong community relationships and partnerships can help mitigate these challenges, particularly in rural areas.

Teaching Adolescents to Become Leaders: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A Critical Literature Review

This literature review explores the role of noncognitive factors in academic performance, which is measured by student GPA. The report develops an evidence-based conceptual framework from existing literature on noncognitive factors. The report also analyzes existing research to identify any gaps in knowledge in order to assist policymakers who wish to assess leverage points for improving student achievement. Additionally, it examines implications for student learning, presents case studies, and provides recommendations.

Promise Seen in College-Awareness Program for Middle Schoolers

A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan found that early exposure to college, mentoring, and community service leadership are successful strategies for motivating low-income students to aspire to college. The study evaluated the effectiveness of the non-profit College for Every Student (CFES) and found that 75 percent of the 1,100 middle school program participants that were included in the study planned to attend four-year colleges.

Betraying the College Dream: How Disconnected K-12 and Postsecondary Education Systems Undermine Student Aspirations

This study from the Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research found that the overwhelming majority (80%) of Hispanic and African American students surveyed planned to pursue some kind of post-secondary education, but misaligned K-16 systems are putting up barriers to college access. Furthermore, high school assessments do not measure the same skills and knowledge that colleges require for entry.

Advancement Via Individual Determination: Method Selection in Conclusions About Program Effectiveness

This evaluation of Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) showed statistically significant differences between AVID and comparison students on measures of enrollment in eighth grade algebra, language arts grades, school absences, and college attendance, favoring AVID students. 

Educational Aspirations Among Low-Income Youths: Examining Multiple Conceptual Models

This study assessed the relationship between high school students home environment and post-secondary aspirations. Data was obtained from the School Success Profile survey administered to middle and high school students. Analyses were limited to a sub-sample of more than 11,000 students from two states. All students in the sample were included based on their eligibility for free or reduced price lunch program. Parental support and parents' high behavioral and academic expectations were associated with greater aspirations.

Effects of a College Access Program For Youth Underrepresented in Higher Education: A Randomized Experiment

This study evaluates the EXCEL program, a college access program, which promotes underrepresented youth attending a higher education institution by guaranteeing a scholarship to a sponsoring university and providing various enrichment activities. Eighty-three eighth grade students with a GPA of B and above and standardized test scores at grade level or above were randomly assigned to attend EXCEL or to a control group. Results revealed that students involved in the program were not significantly more likely to attend college than students in the control group.


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