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SERVE Center - The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

High School Reform

Why is this topic important?

gradsToo many students are not graduating from high school at all and many of those who are graduating are not prepared for college or work. As a result, there is an increased focus on high schools across the nation. Organizations, states, districts and schools need information and assistance as they work to reform and redesign the high school experience.  


What resources can we suggest?

Policies and practices for states

PDF icon  Levers for Change: Southeast Region State Initiatives to Improve High Schools
This descriptive report aims to stimulate discussion about high school reform among Southeast Region states. The report groups recent state activities in high school reform into six "levers for change." To encourage critical reflection, the report places the reform discussion in the context of an evidence-based decisionmaking process and provides sample research on reform activities.

Presentation icon  Examining Levers for Change - View presentation overview.

Models of high school reform

 The Early College Model 

Website icon  Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement 

10-minute college Smaller Learning Communities: Renewing the Promise of Public High Schools

Implementing high school reform

PDF icon  Learning from Failure: A Discussion Guide on High School Reform  

Presentation Learning from Failure - View presentation overview.

Increasing rigor

 Defining Rigor presentation - Rigor is one of those amorphous terms that everyone throws around but no one seems to be able to define. We hope that this presentation will help you move beyond “knowing what rigor is when you see it.”

Improving adolescent reading skills

PDF icon  Evidence-Based Decisionmaking: Assessing Reading Across the Curriculum Interventions 
When selecting reading across the curriculum interventions, educators should consider the extent of the evidence base on intervention effectiveness and the fit with the school or district context, whether they are purchasing a product from vendors or developing it internally. This report provides guidance in the decisionmaking.

PDF icon IES Practice Guide: Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices
This guide presents a summary by a research panel of strategies that can be used "to strengthen the reading ability of adolescent students."

PDF icon  Using Strategy Instruction to Help Struggling High Schoolers Understand What They Read 
This document provides a summary of the research on the use of strategy instruction to help high school students read.

PDF icon  Five State's Efforts to Improve Adolescent Literacy 
In this document, read what other states have done with adolescent literacy initiatives.

Web page icon  For more resources on adolescent literacy, visit our Literacy page.


Dropout Prevention

Website icon  What Works Clearinghouse report on Dropout Prevention Interventions

PDF icon  IES Practice Guide: Dropout Prevention 
This practice guide provides a summary by a research panel of strategies to reduce the number os students dropping out of school.

SERVE Center web page SERVE Center Methodology and Use of Early Warning Systems Meeting
 View presentations and resources from this one-day meeting.

Web page icon For more information and resources on dropout prevention, visit our Support for At-Risk Students page.

Early college puts youth on college track

Early colleges are intended to serve students from populations typically underrepresented in college and to prepare those students with the academic skills and dispositions to succeed in college. Another important attribute of early colleges is that they help students earn college credit during their high school years. Many such early colleges are located on college campuses. The author uses the story of a once wayward youth to illustrate that early colleges can work. Access the full article.

Smoothing the Transition to Postsecondary Education: The Impact of the Early College Model

Developed in response to concerns that too few students were enrolling and succeeding in postsecondary education, early college high schools are small schools that blur the line between high school and college. This article presents results from a longitudinal experimental study comparing outcomes for students accepted to an early college through a lottery process with outcomes for students who were not accepted through the lottery and enrolled in high school elsewhere. Results show that treatment students attained significantly more college credits while in high school, and graduated from high school, enrolled in postsecondary education, and received postsecondary credentials at higher rates. Results for sub-groups are included.

Smoothing the Road to College: Impact of Early College High Schools

North Carolina has established the largest number of Early College High Schools (early colleges) in the United States. Findings from a longitudinal experimental study of early colleges in North Carolina showed positive impacts for students. Read the brief for an overview of the North Carolina Early College High School model, the study's design, and the impacts on students. 

Turning Around a Low-Performing High School: Learning fromthe Story of Jones
Senior High School

Turning around a low-performing school is complex and challenging work. This monograph tells the story of Jones Senior High School, a rural school that increased its achievement from less than 65% passing to approximately 90% passing. Included in this monograph are tips and tools that were developed by the principal and instructional coach who led the turnaround.



  A Better 9th Grade
A Better 9th Grade: Early Results from an Experimental Study of the Early College High School Model

To increase the number of students graduating from high school prepared for college, North Carolina has established the largest number of Early College High Schools (ECHS) in the United States. According to 9th grade results from a rigorous, experimental study, North Carolina’s early college high schools are creating more positive school environments for students resulting in improved attendance, reduced suspensions, and increased numbers of students on-track for college. These schools are also successfully expanding the initial part of the college preparatory pipeline for students of all backgrounds.

SERVE web page  Leveling the Playing Field: SERVE Study Show Early Colleges are Reducing Performance Gaps between Minority and Non-Minority Students.

 For more information, contact Dr. Julie Edmunds.

Dr. Edmunds is Program Director for Secondary School Reform at The SERVE Center at UNCG and Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Educational Research Methodology at University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).