This WestEd case study of five schools looks at successes in improving graduation and college acceptance rates. The schools were also profiled in a 2004 report, and each school has strengthened its courses in both rigor and number offered. The authors highlight five lessons from each of the schools including: helping students see college as an attainable goal; strengthening academic programs; ensuring a coherent curriculum from middle grades through high school; providing extra support during students’ critical freshmen year; and drawing out-of-school youth back into the classroom.
Transition: High School to College
This report from the American Youth Policy Forum and the Pathways to College Network describes comprehensive reform models designed to increase college access. The authors look at the predictors of college-going behavior as addressed within the school reform movement, determine promising practices from existing reform initiatives, and make recommendations for the future.
This report, jointly released by ACT, Inc., and the Education Trust, presents the results of a study looking at how schools prepare minority and low-income students for success in college and subsequently, the workforce. This study identifies the following four components as key to the schools' success in preparing students: 1) high-level college-oriented content, 2) well qualified teachers, 3) flexible pedagogical styles, and 4) tutorial support students.
This ACT, Inc., policy report discusses and investigates the inconsistencies between a typical high school curriculum and what a student needs to know in order to be prepared for the workforce or postsecondary education. The report also stresses that the lack of academic rigor found in many high schools plays a part in the ensuing disconnect.
This report, commissioned by the California Teachers Association’s (CTA) High School Restructuring Task Force and authored by WestEd, synthesizes the major initiatives on high school reform taking place nationally and in California. The publication provides: 1) clear synthesis of the problem and context; 2) research on high-performing high schools, comprehensive school reform models, and the barriers to improvement; 3) current reform proposals and their research base; and 4) suggestions for further discussion and exploration by CTA.
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.
This paper from the Center for American Progress examines high schools that implement an extended learning day as part of a required educational program for all students, explores issues related to implementing such a program, presents examples of how schools accomplish this, and analyzes the implications for school design, capacity, and financing.
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.
This report from ACT, Inc., recommends that considerable experience with complex reading texts in high school is the key to the development of college-level reading skills, and is the clearest differentiator of students who are ready for the post-secondary world of college and/or work versus those who are not. The report also defines the types of materials that need to be included in all high school courses, and offers recommendations to educators and policymakers on how to help increase the number of high school graduates who are ready for college-level reading.
ACT’s report recommends that schools strengthen their core high school curriculum to better prepare students for post-secondary success. Even with a high school diploma, many students leave high school without the necessary skills that will assist them in college or the workforce and research demonstrates that students at all levels of achievement benefit from taking rigorous courses.