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FAQ(s): High School Curriculum: How important is rigor?
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What contributes most to long-term bachelor's degree completion of students who attend four-year colleges (even if they also attend other types of institutions)?

NOTES FROM ECS: Older study that continues to add value today. One of the most frequently cited research studies.
Issue/Topic: Curriculum; High School--College Readiness; Postsecondary Participation--Access/Outreach
Author(s): Adelman, Clifford
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Education
Publication: Answers in the Tool Box
Published On: 6/1/1999

High School Background

  • High school curriculum reflects 41% of the academic resources students bring to higher education; test scores, 30%; and class rank/academic GPA, 29%. No matter how one divides th...
  • 1999-06-01T00:00:00
    On Course for Success: A Close Look at Selected High School ...
    To look at the components of high school courses that prepare students for successful entry into postsecondary education, searching for schools where there are substantial populations of minority and low-income students and whose students take the ACT Assessment and perform well on the test.

    NOTES FROM ECS: Implications for teachers, administrators, local and state policymakers
    Issue/Topic: High School; Curriculum; High School--College Readiness
    Author(s): Haycock, Kati
    Organization(s): ; Education Trust
    Publication: On Course for Success: A Close Look at Selected High School Courses That Prepare All Students for College
    Season: Winter 2004
    High-level college-oriented content

  • Successful students were enrolled in college-preparatory courses in their high schools and learning the skills they need to be ready for college-level work. The content of these cour...
  • 2004-12-01T00:00:00
    Inequitable Opportunities: How Current Education Systems and...
    Demonstrates that access to college-preparation-related policy information follows racial, ethnic, income and curricular tracking lines. Presents findings related to K-16 policies/practices and practitioner understanding of those policies and practices.
    Issue/Topic: High School; Curriculum; Counseling/Guidance; High School--College Readiness; P-16 or P-20; Postsecondary Participation--Access/Outreach; At-Risk (incl. Dropout Prevention)
    Author(s): Kirst, Michael; Venezia, Andrea
    Organization(s): National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education; Stanford University
    Publication: Educational Policy
    Season: Spring 2005
    College preparation activities and counseling

  • High-SES and Honors students tended to participate more in college preparation activities, and 11th graders were more active in, and informed about, college preparation ac...
  • 2005-04-01T00:00:00
    School-to-Career and Postsecondary Education: Evidence from ...
    To study the process of selection into school-to-work programs and to examine their impact on a set of schooling- related outcomes during and after high school. To identify the causal effects of participation in school-to-career programs on high school dropout and graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment, future educational objectives and employment.
    Issue/Topic: Economic/Workforce Development; Career/Technical Education
    Author(s): Neumark, David; Furstenberg, Frank
    Publication: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper
    Season: Spring 2005

    High School Outcomes

    • Participation in a school-to-career program results in a decline in dropping out of high school by five or six percentage points.

    • Increased exposure to school-to-career progr...
    Courses Count: Preparing Students for Postsecondary Success
    Why aren’t our students ready to succeed in postsecondary programs without remedial help when they leave high school?

    NOTES FROM ECS: Important implications for policymakers who are considering changes to graduation requirements and other high school policies.
    Issue/Topic: High School; Curriculum; High School--College Readiness
    Author(s): ACT, Inc.
    Season: Winter 2005
  • Some courses and course sequences better prepare students for postsecondary-level work than others, including: English 9 � 12; Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and one or more upper level mathematics course; and Biology, Chemistry an...
  • 2005-12-01T00:00:00
    Best Policies and Practices in Urban Educational Reform: A S...
    The purpose of the study is to provide findings regarding best policies and practices in educational reform focusing on student achievement in math and science. The study explores different models linking policy implementation to student outcome.
    Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Mathematics; Curriculum--Science; Accountability--School Improvement
    Author(s): Crasco, Linda; Kim, Jason
    Organization(s): Systemic Research, Inc.
    Publication: Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk
    Published On: 2006
    • In general, student achievement gains appear linked to the theoretical educational reform drivers developed by the National Science Foundation.

    • “Open access” policies show a positive relationship with student ...
    School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic...
    What are the key factors that promote academic success among students whose demographic characteristics and school circumstances place them at high risk of failure?

    NOTES FROM ECS: Holds implications for school improvement and systemic change.
    Issue/Topic: Curriculum; At-Risk (incl. Dropout Prevention)
    Author(s): Akey, Theresa
    Organization(s): MDRC
    Season: Winter 2006
    Student Attitudes and Behavior

  • Engagement in school was a critical predictor of mathematics achievement for high school students, a finding that is consistent with much of the literature. In contrast to the existing li...
  • 2006-12-01T00:00:00
    Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion From High Scho...
    Starting in high school, and moving into and through college, what makes a difference in completing a bachelor's degree? NOTES FROM ECS: This is a "must-read" for policymakers and their staff.
    Issue/Topic: High School; Curriculum; High School--College Readiness; Postsecondary Success--Completion
    Author(s): Adelman, Clifford
    Organization(s): U.S. Department of Education
    Publication: Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion From High School Through College
    Season: Winter 2006
    Postsecondary Benchmarks

  • Less than 20 credits by the end of the first calendar year of enrollment (no matter in what term one started, whether summer, fall, winter, spring) is a serious drag on degree completion.
  • 2006-12-01T00:00:00
    Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Pat...
    To determine how high school science and mathematics course-taking, race, class, and gender predict STEM baccalaureate degree attainment among baccalaureate degree recipients.
    Issue/Topic: High School--Graduation Requirements; STEM
    Author(s): Lopes, Paulo; Tyson, Will; Hanson, Mary Ann; Lee, Reginald
    Organization(s): University of South Florida; Center for Career and Community Research
    Publication: Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk
    Published On: 2007

    1. Science and Mathematics Course-taking and STEM Degree Attainment Findings:


    • Students taking Physics I and Chemistry II or Physics II (high level science courses) obtained a baccalaureate deg...
    Explaining Gaps in Readiness for College-Level Math: The Rol...
    To estimate how much of the racial, socioeconomical and gender gaps in high school and postsecondary outcomes are determined by the courses that students take while in high school.
    Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Mathematics; High School--College Readiness; Postsecondary Participation--Access/Outreach
    Author(s): Conger, Dylan; Long, Mark; Iatarola, Patrice
    Organization(s): Evans School, University of Washington; Florida State University; Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, George Washington University
    Publication: Education Finance and Policy
    Season: Winter 2009

    Less than half of the black and poor students and just over half of the Hispanic students in the sample were prepared for college-level math - far below the readiness rates for whites, Asian and nonpoor students.

    1. The courses ...
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