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High School Research
This section provides information on risk factors for high school students, drop out statistics, and the advantages of afterschool programs focused on older youth.  Other information includes challenges that providers face with high school youth and best practices for programming. 

 

Afterschool: A High School Dropout Prevention Tool
Over one million students who enter ninth grade each year fail to graduate with their peers four years later because they drop out of school. Seven thousand students drop out of school every day, and each year roughly 1.2 million students fail to graduate from high school. More than half of these students are from minority groups. After school programs are a proven way to address the issues and risk factors that lead to dropout and provide a path to graduation and beyond.

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Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), College preparatory program for economically disadvantaged and underachieving students
Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a college preparatory program for students in the middle who are often economically disadvantaged and underachieving. It enables disadvantaged secondary students to succeed in rigorous curricula, enter mainstream activities in school, and increase their opportunities to enroll in four-year colleges. Developed in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, AVID has seen steady growth throughout California, nationally, and internationally in the last 26 years.

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Aiming High: High Schools for the 21st Century, the framework for the high school grade span
Aiming High is a how-to document for implementing a standards-based educational system. The document helps to place standards-based education in the context of California's accountability system that includes state standards and local outcomes. The document's focus is to guide schools in "doing the right things" and in "doing things right." Elementary and middle grades publications are also available.

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Emerging Evidence on Improving High School Student Achievement and Graduation Rates: The Effects of Four Popular Improvement Programs
Draws on findings from four studies by MDRC, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research firm.

Findings from these evaluations suggest that positive change is associated with a combination of instructional improvement and structural changes in school organization and class schedules. The brief is organized according to five cross-cutting challenges that high schools face in seeking to influence student outcomes: assisting students who enter high school with poor academic skills, improving instructional content and practice, creating a personalized and orderly learning environment, providing work-based learning opportunities and preparing students for the world beyond high school, and stimulating change in overstressed high schools.

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Engaging Older Youth: Program and City-level Strategies to Support Sustained Participation in Out-of-School Time
This new report, Engaging Older Youth, examines the program practices and structural features of almost 200 OST programs located across six diverse cities-Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Providence, San Francisco, and Washington, DC-and primarily serving low-income youth.

The report identifies five OST program characteristics (two program practices and three structural features) that set apart the programs that were the most successful in supporting high retention: providing many leadership opportunities to youth in the programs, having staff keep informed in several ways about youth outside programs, being community-based, enrolling 100 or more youth, and holding regular staff meetings.

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High School Reform and High School Afterschool: A Common Purpose
With a job market that requires nearly all workers to have a high school diploma, America faces a huge challenge with the dropout crisis. This brief examines the potential role high school afterschool could play in decreasing dropout rates, tackling the achievement gap, and keeping kids on track towards successful futures.

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Interim Report on California’s 21st Century High School After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) Program
This statewide effort began in 2002. The program awards five one-year grants to programs that provide opportunities to underachieving high school-aged youth in the state. This WestEd report evaluates the program’s initial years of implementation. (WestEd, 2006).

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Older Youth Need Afterschool Programs
Although much of the funding and programming for afterschool targets younger children, there are myriad advantages for older youth participation in afterschool. This brief examines the growing need for afterschool programming for teens.

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Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts
Based on both statistical analysis of employment data and extensive research involving over 300 faculty members from two and four year postsecondary institutions, managers, and high school educators, the American Diploma Project (ADP) benchmarks concretely define the English and math that graduates must master to succeed in credit-bearing college courses and high-performance, high-growth jobs. Key findings: employers' and colleges' academic demands for high school graduates have converged, yet states' current high-school exit expectations fall well short of those demands.

Education Trust and partners Achieve and Fordham Foundation (2004).

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Recruiting and Retaining Older Youth in Afterschool
Not only are middle and high school-aged youth difficult to engage in after school activities, but they are more likely to have unique demands on their time in the hours after school. This issue brief highlights the challenges providers face in serving older youth and the innovative strategies that programs have used to recruit and retain older youth in after school.

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SEDL Letter: Changing High Schools, Changing Our Future
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (2004).

Mike Schmoker offers practical advice for school improvement, presenting changes that are not costly or disruptive to high schools. The second article in this issue takes us to Irving, Texas, where Irving ISD has established successful smaller learning communities that are making a difference for students in this largely working-class community. Irving’s SLC program has a strong vocational component, which is also present at another school visited—Garza Independence High School in Austin, Texas. Garza is an alternative high school that is not a holding tank for troublemakers, as is often the perception for alternative schools. It is a school that accommodates individual differences and learning styles, a school where most of its graduates go on to college.

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With Diploma in Hand: Hispanic High School Seniors Talk about their Future
National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (2003).

This project began with an enigma. In surveys, the parents of Hispanic high school seniors place enormous emphasis on higher education. By significantly higher percentages than the rest of the population, the parents of Hispanic high school seniors believe that a college education is an essential prerequisite for a good job and a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.  However, this desire for higher education does not translate into reality. Compared to non-Hispanic whites or African-American students, Hispanic students are much less likely to obtain higher education degrees. There is clearly a gap, in other words, between what Hispanic parents say they want for their children, and the paths those children actually follow.

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Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing Adolescents in Middle and High School
This report offers a number of specific teaching techniques that research suggests will help 4th- to 12th-grade students in our nation’s schools. The report focuses on all students, not just those who display writing difficulties, although this latter group is deservedly the focus of much attention. The premise of this report is that all students need to become proficient and flexible writers. In this report, the term low-achieving writer is used to refer to students whose writing skills are not adequate to meet classroom demands. Some of these low-achieving writers have been identified as having learning disabilities; others are the “silent majority” who lack writing proficiency but do not receive additional help. As will be seen in this report, some studies investigate the effects of writing instruction on groups of students across the full range of ability, from more effective to less effective writers, while others focus specifically on individuals with low writing proficiency.

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