Meeting Six Critical Challenges of High School Reform James Kemple MDRC Presentation for National Academy Foundation Academy Leadership Summit November 2006 [email_address] http://www.mdrc.org/publications/428/full.pdf
Six Critical Challenges
Creating personalized learning environments.
Assisting students who enter high school with poor literacy and math skills.
Improving instructional content and pedagogy.
Preparing students for the world beyond high school.
Stimulating change and sustaining high performance.
Building knowledge about what works, what does not work and why.
Especially strong impact on the 9th grade transition: improved attendance; increase in credits earned; higher rates of promotion to the 10th grade.
First Things First
Especially strong impacts on student achievement and graduation rates in FTF’s flagship district.
Especially strong impacts on post-secondary employment and earnings for young men without limiting access to post-secondary education.
Evaluation Findings: Limitations
While 9th grade impact persisted into the upper grades, the evaluation found only limited evidence that impacts were growing or getting stronger as students
First Things First
Results for scaling up districts did not reflect impacts from the flagship sites.
Programs did not have an impact, positive or negative, on academic performance or educational attainment.
Challenge 1: Creating a Personalized Learning Environment
SLCs promote personalized, supportive environment and positive relationships.
Faculty advisory systems link students to a teacher who is looking out for their well-being.
Not sufficient alone to raise achievement and prevent dropout.
SLCs may provide necessary platform for reforms aimed at instructional improvement, supports for post-secondary transition, and accountability.
Challenge 2: Enhancing Basic Literacy and Math Skills
Sequential transitional courses focused on literacy and math are associated with substantial improvements in performance and promotion to 10 th grade.
Double dose, extended block periods provide key structural framework for transitional courses.
A double-blocked schedule can enable students to earn more credits per year than other arrangements.
Supplementary literacy and math classes in 9 th grade may improve skills and overall performance throughout high school.
Literacy across the curriculum may improve overall performance in all subject areas.
Challenge 3: Improving Instructional Content and Pedagogy
Teachers benefit from well-designed curricula and lesson plans that have already been developed.
Teacher professional development and coaching appear to be necessary for building instructional capacity and responsive teaching.
Student achievement may be enhanced when teachers work together to make sure that curricula and lessons are engaging, aligned, and rigorous.
Applied learning may improve academic achievement
Deploying high quality teachers to ninth grade, and to other high need students, can improve overall school performance
Challenge 4: Preparing Students for the World Beyond High School
Career awareness and development activities, in and outside of school, provide effective tools for transitions to employment without limiting access to college.
Incentives not sufficient to improve preparation for college entrance.
Ongoing guidance, mentoring, and advocacy can improve preparation for transitions without limiting options for post-secondary education and employment.
Challenge 5: Stimulating Change and Sustaining High Performance
External expertise and intensive support appear to be critical to capacity building.
District support may not be a necessary condition for initiating reforms, but is required for long-term sustainability.
Strategic reform requires assessment of what is already in place and the capacity of local personnel.
“ Train-the-trainer” and “distance” coaching and TA may promote high fidelity scaling up of effective reforms.
Challenge 6: Building Knowledge
Strongest evidence is on the nature of the problems.
Strong evidence on the difference between high performing and low performing high schools.
Much more limited evidence on effective strategies for transforming low-performing high schools into high-performing high schools.
A focus on outcomes and not impact has left a track record of getting the wrong answer to the right question.
Need to address questions about what works as well as questions about why, how, and under what circumstances.
Knowledge building is the domain of researchers, policy makers and practitioners.
Career Academies: Impacts on On-Time Graduation Evaluation Sample National Averages for Similar Students in Similar Schools Note: National average estimates are adjusted to represent a sample with the same background characteristics as those in the Evaluation Sample. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Academy Career/Tech. Non-Academy General Academic Percent Graduating On-Time 80.4 63.3 48.6 72.9 72.2
Judging Program Impact High School Graduation Rates 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Program A Graduation Rates (% ) 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Program C Graduation Rate (% ) 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Program B Graduation Rates (% ) 85 84 71 53 72 85 Academy Group Control Group
Caveats and Cautions
Evidence base is limited, but improving
Problems are multidimensional, so must be the solutions: components are interdependent and interacting
Angels/devils are in the details of implementation
Important not to dismiss modest, but positive improvements
Give reform a chance: with promising interventions, staying the course can be as important as the course that is taken
Selected Resources for High School Reform Models
Talent Development High Schools
( www.csos.jhu.edu/tdhs )
First Things First
( www.irre.org )
National Academy Foundation
( www.naf.org )
Career Academy Support Network
( www.casn.berkeley.edu )
Selected Resources for Research on High School Reform
MDRC ( www.mdrc.org )
Consortium for Policy Research in Education ( www.cpre.org )
American Institutes for Research (AIR)
( www.air.org )
( www.sri.com )
Research Triangle Institute ( www.rti.org )
Mathematica Policy Research Institute ( www.mathematica.org )
MPR Associates, Inc. ( www.mprinc.com )
National High School Center
( www.betterhighschools.org )
National Clearinghouse for Comprehensive School Reform
( www.goodschools.gwu.edu )
National Centers for Career Technical Education ( www.nccte.org )