School Improvement

Turning Around the Nation’s Lowest-Performing Schools

This report sponsored by the Center for American Progress discusses school turnaround in failing schools. The author outlines five steps for effective school improvement within a district: understanding what each school needs; quantifying what each school gets now and how it is used; investing in the most important changes first; customizing the strategy to each school; and changing the district, not just the school.

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

The report from the America’s Promise Alliance examines high school graduation rates and gives an overview of aggregate trends in high school graduation rates as well as trends broken down by ethnicity, race and region. It highlights districts and states that have been especially successful in raising graduation rates and the steps taken to achieve that success. It also proposes next steps to take to raise graduation rates in other locations, including setting rigorous standards, hiring effective teachers, and improving parent engagement.

Meeting the Challenge: The Role of School Leaders in Turning Around the Lowest-Performing High Schools

This policy brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education discusses the the role of school leaders in turning around low performing high schools. The author examines the effects of school leadership on all high school students and provides federal policy recommendations that include embracing high expectations, supporting development of school leader preparation programs, and replacing ineffective federal improvement systems.

Turning Around Chronically Low-Performing Schools: A practice guide

This practice guide by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recommends four strategies to turn around more than 2,300 schools nationwide that are in restructuring. The guide includes specific recommendations, and describes how each recommendation can be carried out by school and district level administrators.

Transforming the High School Experience: How New York City’s New Small Schools Are Boosting Student Achievement and Graduation Rates

This report from MDRC examines New York City’s small schools of choice (SSC) program and presents findings from that study that show that in roughly six years, a large system of small public high schools were created and helped improve graduation prospects for many disadvantaged students. The study found that by the end of their first year of high school, 58.5 percent of SSC enrollees were on track to graduate high school in four years compared with 48.5 percent of their non-SSC counterparts.

Race to the Top: Accelerating College and Career Readiness in States

This set of four guides from Achieve, Inc., are designed to help state leaders look at the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition through a college- and career-ready lens, offering specific advice on topics such as standards and assessments; P-20 longitudinal data systems; teacher effectiveness; and low-performing schools; as well as promising practices that policymakers can use to build on their successes and maximize the opportunities available through RTTT.

Success at Every Step: How 23 Programs Support Youth on the Path to College and Beyond

This publication from American Youth Policy Forum is designed to help policymakers and practitioners learn about effective programs supporting college- and career-readiness. The authors describe programs that have been proven to help young people successfully complete high school and be prepared for success in postsecondary education and careers. These programs represent a wide range of interventions, including school-wide reform initiatives, community-based afterschool services, work-based learning opportunities, and college access programs.


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