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ECS High School Policy Center (HSPC)


From the ECS State Policy Database: High School - This policy database—updated weekly—is made possible by your state's fiscal support of the Education Commission of the States....

From the ECS State Policy Database: International Baccalaureate - This policy database—updated weekly—is made possible by your state's fiscal support of the Education Commission of the States....

Helping Students Get a Head Start on the "Real World": State Strategies for Early High School Graduation MS Word PDF - This ECS Policy Brief considers several policy approaches to facilitate (or incentivize) early graduation and provides caveats and essential policy components for these various approaches: (1) Proficiency-based credit; (2) Virtual high schools; (3) Completion of high school-level material before grade 9; (4)"Dual enrollment plus": Programs that allow students who may have completed high school graduation requirements early to enroll full-time in postsecondary or career/technical courses; and (5) Scholarship incentives for early graduation. (Jennifer Dounay Zinth, Education Commission of the States, May 2010)...

The Progress of Education Reform: End-of-Course Exams PDF - In recent years, criticism of high school graduates’ lack of readiness for college and work has led a number of states to raise high school graduation requirements — particularly in terms of the number and rigor of courses students must pass. This issue of The Progress of Education Reform addresses end-of-course assessments at the high school level. (Jennifer Dounay Zinth, Education Commission of the States, April 2010)...

Dual Enrollment - This database provides 50-state information on 17 policy components related to program quality, funding and access. (Jennifer Dounay Zinth, Education Commission of the States, December 2013)...

Strategies to Empower Low-Income and Minority Students in Gaining Admission to and Paying for College PDF - This policy brief identifies barriers created by federal, state and local policies that pose a particular challenge for aspiring first-generation college students in the college and financial aid application process, and provides suggestions for how state-level policy might address each barrier. A final section on "other" barriers to college entry seeks to alert policymakers to emerging issues for which adequate institutional, state and federal policy responses are needed. (Jennifer Dounay, Education Commission of the States, November 2008)...

High School Remediation PDF - Measured purely in monetary terms, the costs of providing remediation at the high school level can seem high, but the costs of not providing adequate and timely remediation are even higher. This ECS Policy Brief provides the elements of effective remediation policies and examples of what some states are trying to do to meet the demands of preparing students for college and careers. (Kyle Zinth and Melodye Bush, Education Commission of the States, October 2008) ...

Adolescent Literacy PDF - Traditionally reading is taught in the primary grades. However, a growing awareness of the need to address the reading skills of adolescents has resulted in states incorporating literacy instruction in their secondary-level teacher preparation and certification requirements, modifying and aligning curriculum standards, and establishing state policies to guide change. (Melodye Bush, Education Commission of the States, September 2008)...

Virtual High Schools MS Word PDF - Statewide virtual high schools are state-led programs created by state legislatures or state-level departmental agencies, and most commonly administered by a state’s education department. This ECS StateNote provides 50-state information on policies related to student curriculum and access, teaching quality and program quality/accountability. (Melodye Bush, Education Commission of the States, August 2008)...

Career/Technical Education - This database provides 50-state information on numerous state policies with implications for student access to and quality of high school career/technical education programs. (Melodye Bush, Education Commission of the States, August 2008)...

State Initiatives to Improve High Schools - This database provides information on a variety of state-level efforts, including: (1) States that subsidize testing fees for the ACT, SAT, PLAN, PSAT, etc.; (2) State initiatives to improve the senior year and 9th grade year; (3) Outreach efforts to ensure students are well-prepared to finish high school and apply for college admission and financial aid; (4) Initiatives that require students to create long-term plans (i.e., 5-year plan, declaration of major, etc.); and (5) States that authorize or require the use of e-transcripts. (Michael Colasanti, Education Commission of the States, July 2008)...

Adolescent Literacy - This database provides 50-state information on 13 approaches to address student literacy needs in grades 4-12. (Melodye Bush, Education Commission of the States, June 2008)...

High School-Level STEM Initiatives - This database provides information on a variety of state efforts intended to increase student interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in grades 9-12. (Kyle Zinth, Education Commission of the States, June 2008)...

Postsecondary Feedback Systems - This database provides information about the data systems in more than 20 states that provide districts and high schools with information about how their graduates have fared after entering postsecondary education in the state. (Michael Colasanti, Education Commission of the States, June 2008)...

P-16/P-20 Councils - P-16 councils were first established in the 1990s to convene state leaders representing early learning (the "P") through the first four years of college (the "16"). This ECS database provides information on existing P-16/P-20 Councils in the states. (Jennifer Dounay, Education Commission of the States, May 2008)...

International Baccalaureate Database - The International Baccalaureate (IB) program offers highly motivated students the opportunity to complete a cohesive, challenging curriculum aligned with international standards. This 50-state database, focused on the IB Diploma Program for 11th and 12th graders, provides information on numerous state policies related to program quality and access. (Jennifer Dounay, Education Commission of the States, August 2007)...

Student Support and Remediation - This database provides 50-state information on high school-level remediation policies, and on alternative approaches to allow at-risk students and returning dropouts earn a high school diploma. (Kyle Zinth and Melodye Bush, Education Commission of the States, June 2007)...

Involving Families in High School and College Expectations MS Word PDF - While the vast majority of today's high school students – and their parents – anticipate they will attend college, far too many students lack knowledge about the essential steps that must be taken to make the high school to college transition. This ECS Policy Brief provides a synthesis of the research on the college aspirations of many students and their parents today, as well as the documented lack of information far too many families possess on the necessary steps to make the transition from high school to postsecondary. The brief identifies current state policies that address each of the steps necessary to negotiate the bridge from high school to college, and highlights a Texas policy aimed at annually evaluating the accessibility and affordability of public postsecondary institutions in the state. (Jennifer Dounay, Education Commission of the States, August 2006)...

Dual Enrollment: Policy Issues Confronting State Policymakers MS Word PDF - A growing number of policymakers in the states see dual enrollment as a way to increase college access and success. This policy brief provides background information about dual enrollment and summarizes the research surrounding the issue. Examples of state dual enrollment programs and a list of policy considerations are also included. (Carl Krueger, Education Commission of the States, March 2006)...

Additional Coursework Options and Requirements - This database provides 50-state information on state policies related to (1) requiring all students to have an individual graduation plan; (2) early graduation; (3) proficiency-based credit; (4) requiring all students to declare a major or career pathway. (Jennifer Dounay, Education Commission of the States, January 2006)...

College-Ready Standards - This database provides 50-state information on state policies requiring all students to (1) complete a college/employer-recommended curriculum and (2) take the ACT or SAT. The database also includes disaggregated college-readiness data from the Manhattan Institute. (Jennifer Dounay, Education Commission of the States, January 2006)...

Ensuring Rigor in the High School Curriculum: What States Are Doing MS Word PDF - While increasing the number of courses required for high school graduation – and requiring students to complete specific courses – is a good first step toward preparing students for the world after high school, it is equally important for states to ensure that high school course content is adequately challenging. This policy brief identifies several policy options – and provides examples of state action for each – for ensuring rigor in the high school curriculum. (Jennifer Dounay, Education Commission of the States, January 2006)...

Early Assessments and Transition Curricula: What States Can Do - When states start using Common Core assessments – or similar tests – a lot of 11th graders are going to find out they’re not college ready and, barring some kind of intervention, are headed for remedial college classes which are expensive and offer no credit. This brief, based on a longer study, discusses potential ways to help students avoid that costly, unrewarding path. Some states, districts and schools already offer 12th-grade transition classes, but of the 38 states who assess college readiness in some way, not all provide an intervention. Transition curricula are offered in 29 states; of these eight are statewide initiatives. (CCRC, January 2014)...

Implementing Ninth Grade Academies in Broward County, Florida - Starting in the mid-2000s, Florida's Broward County Public Schools instituted Ninth Grade Academies(NGAs)in all their public high schools. The idea was that these would be small schools within large schools, offering freshmen a more personalized, engaging environment. Implementation was difficult. Administrative leadership and space components of the NGAs were easier to achieve than a dedicated faculty and interdisciplinary teaming components. Only three high schools achieved full implementation, 10 achieved partial implementation and five fell below the threshold. (Nettie Legters, Leigh Parise and Shelley Rappaport, MDRC, June 2013) ...

Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates - In its eighth edition of Knocking at the College Door, two trends are identified: a slight decline in the number of high school students after two decades of growth, and that future college students will be increasingly diverse. State-by-state analyses are provided. While readers will be interested in the Knocking report, they also might enjoy cruising through the enhanced WICHE site at http://wiche.edu/. (December 2012) ...

Transforming the High School Experience: How New York City's New Small Schools Are Boosting Student Achievement and Graduation Rates - The first step in New York City's high school admissions process is to require eighth-graders to select in rank order of priority up to a dozen high schools that they want to attend. When one of the schools has more applicants than spaces a lottery-like process to randomly assign students to "small schools of choice" (SSCs) in another district. These lotteries provide the basis for an usually large and rigorous study of the effects of SSCs on students' academic achievement. This report presenting clear and reliable evidence that, in roughly six years, a large system of small public high schools can be created and markedly improve graduation prospects for many disadvantaged students. (Howard Bloom, Saskia Levy Thompson and Rebecca Unterman, MDRC, June 2010)...


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