School Improvement

Raising Graduation Rates in An Era of High Standards: Five Commitments for State Action

This white paper from Jobs for the Future provides state-level policymakers with a framework for raising graduation rates in their states. The five commitments offered in this piece are: 1) A High School Diploma That Signifies College and Work-Readiness, 2) Pathways to High School Graduation and College for Overage, Undercredited, and Out-of-School Youth, 3) Turnaround of Low-performing High Schools, 4) Increased Emphasis on Graduation Rates and College-Readiness in Next Generation Accountability, and 5) Early and Continuous Support for Struggling Students.

CSRQ Center Report on Middle and High School Comprehensive School Reform Models

This research synthesis from the Comprehensive School Reform Quality (CSRQ) Center reviewed the research on middle and high school comprehensive school reform (CSR) models. Different CSR models are described and the research evaluating these models is examined across several areas, including impact on student achievement, overall and by subject; effects for diverse populations; and other outcomes, such as parent, family, and community involvement; and services and support provided to schools to enable successful implementation.

Integrating Grades 9 Through 14: State Policies to Support and Sustain Early College High Schools

This brief from Jobs for the Future provides an overview of Early College High School (ECHS) models, and the state policies that support this educational model. The authors describe why these are a beneficial yet underutilized resource and provide recommendations for state legislation and collaboration that will help to increase access to ECHS and maximize the benefits and rewards to students who choose to attend them.

Meeting Five Critical Challenges of High School Reform: Lessons from Research on Three Reform Models

This report from MDRC looks at how three different high school reform models--Career Academies, First Things First, and Talent Development--addressed five challenges found to be obstacles to successful reform implementation in low-performing high schools. According to this report, the pillars of high school reform are structural changes to improve personalization and instructional improvement. The report offers tangible solutions as well as supporting evidence and various resources.

States’ Progress Toward High School Restructuring

As many Title I high schools approach their fifth year of failing to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP), many states and districts are struggling to navigate the new waters of school restructuring as required in such cases as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. This brief from the National High School Center outlines the provisions of the law related to restructuring and includes strategies that states and districts are undertaking to meet their obligations under the law, particularly at the high school level.

Emerging Evidence on Improving High School Student Achievement and Graduation Rates: The Effects of Four Popular Improvement Programs

The National High School Center released methods for improving low-performing high schools based on some of the most rigorous research currently available in the school reform arena. This research brief identifies lessons learned as well as key practices used to strengthen high schools and is based on evaluations of four widely used high school improvement programs - Career Academies, First Things First, Project GRAD, and Talent Development.

Impacts of Dropout Prevention Programs: Final report

This study from Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. evaluated 16 dropout programs for middle and high school students under the School Dropout Demonstration Assistance Program (SDDP). Analysis and discussion mostly focus on the aggregate impact of programs on middle schools or high schools, rather than on specific programs. The study found that middle school programs had a significant effect in reducing dropout only if they were implemented with high intensity. The programs, regardless of intensity, did not have an impact on student learning (e.g., grades, test scores).

Effects of High School Restructuring and Size on Early Gains in Achievement and Engagements

This study assessed the impact on tenth grade students of attending high schools whose practices are consistent with the school-restructuring movement. Using data on a sample of 11,794 sophomores in 830 high schools from the first two waves of the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88), the authors evaluated restructuring effects on students' gains in engagement and achievement in four subjects and the social distribution of those gains.


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