Aligning High School Graduation Requirements with the Real World: A Road Map for States

This policy brief describes programs and initiatives from different states and districts that have been implemented to retain students, lower dropout rates, and help provide students with life skills to make them successful through and after high school. The authors start with a discussion of how to determine the parameters of graduation policy, i.e., identifying which courses students should be required to take and anchoring courses in standards that are aligned with college and career expectations.

Improving Academic Preparation for College

This paper reviews research and makes the case for a definition of academic preparation that includes academic rigor, grades, and specific academic skills that students will need to be successful in a college level course. The authors assert that though it may be difficult to measure, it is important to consider all of these aspects in defining readiness and in helping students meet a threshold of it.

Building a Grad Nation Report: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic

This resource from the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins discusses what progress is being made on a range of education reforms, policies, and practices that help ensure more students graduate from high school and ready for college and productive work. The authors talk about what is taking place at the national level and examine the challenges faced by different racial and ethnic groups.

Using Data to Increase College and Career Readiness: A Checklist for States

This resource from the Data Quality Campaign is a checklist that can be used by state policymakers to support their efforts to increase college and career readiness. It is meant as a guide to policymakers to use as they develop policies and procedures. The checklist provides information on the State Role, the State Responsibility, and the National Landscape. Users are able to then analyze how their state fits in compared to the provided information.

The Undereducated American

This report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce analyzes wage and unemployment data in the United States. The authors discuss growing disparity in earnings between those with a college education and those without. They lay out the need for an additional 20 million postsecondary-educated workers and discuss the economic and wider repercussions such additions to the workforce would have on the entire society.

The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings

In this report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the authors examine exactly what a college degree is worth — and what else besides a degree might influence an individual’s potential earnings. This report examines lifetime earnings for all education levels and earnings by occupation, age, race/ethnicity, and gender. The data are clear: a college degree is key to economic opportunity, conferring substantially higher earnings on those with credentials than those without.

Levers for Change: Southeast Region State Initiatives to Improve High Schools

This report examined strategies used in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina to improve student achievement and, ultimately, high school graduation rates to ensure that students are equipped with 21st century skills and knowledge. Information on state-level high school reform initiatives in each state and state profiles were then analyzed to identify themes or “levers for change.” The report provides a detailed description of each lever and aims to give policymakers ideas about approaches to consider.

Staying on Course: Three-Year Results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Evaluation

This report from MDRC summarizes findings from a randomized controlled trial evaluating the long-term (three-year) effects of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe dropout recovery program. The sample included 1,200 young people in the intervention and control groups. Members of the program group were much more likely than those in the control group to have obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or a high school diploma, to have earned college credits, and to be employed. Additionally, they were less likely to have crime, delinquency, and health problems.

The Effect of Communities in Schools on High School Dropout and Graduation Rates: Results from a Multiyear, School-Level Quasi-experimental Study

This study was conducted as part of a comprehensive 5-year national evaluation of Communities in Schools (CIS). Using a quasi-experimental design this study intended to examine the effects of CIS on graduation and dropout rates. The sample included 123 high schools matched to non-CIS schools within the same state. Results indicated that initiatives that aim to prevent student dropout by encouraging collaboration between schools and their communities can keep students on track to graduation.


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