High School

Education Commission of the States • 700 Broadway, Suite 1200 • Denver, CO 80203-3460 • 303.299.3600 • Fax: 303.296.8332 • www.ecs.org


High School Agenda:

Who’s Doing What

May 2005


This document provides information on the projects, initiatives and products of ECS and other national education and policy organizations on the subject of high school improvement. It is designed to direct policymakers to the various groups and resources that might be useful in developing and implementing effective high school policy, and highlight important resources for anyone concerned with improving high schools. 



Focus and Problem Statement


Initiatives, Projects, Products and Links



Education Commission of the States (ECS)

700 Broadway,

Suite 1200

Denver, CO  80203



The mission of the Education Commission of the States is to help state leaders identify, develop and implement public policy for education that addresses current and future needs of a learning society (h
elping state policymakers shape education policy).


State Strategies for Redesigning High Schools and Promoting High School to College Transitions (January 2005)


High school database: Over the next 36 months, ECS will be creating a national high school policy database that will include state policies related to alignment and access, curriculum and standards, assessment, accountability and finance. This database also will highlight research and local initiatives.


Closing the College Participation Gap: U.S Profile (2003)


State profiles also available


Recent State Legislation: High School (current and past enactments): http://www.ecs.org/ecs/ecscat.nsf/WebTopicView?OpenView&count=300&RestrictToCategory=High+School


ECS StateNote, Target Attendance and Graduation Rates and How Rates Are Calculated (January 2005)



The Progress of Education Reform: High School Curriculum (August-September 2001)



ECS StateNote, Differentiated High School Diplomas (January 2000)



ECS StateNote, Foreign Language Requirements for High School Graduation (September 2002)



ECS StateNote, Geography/World History Course Requirements for High School Graduation (August 2002)



Recent State Legislation: High School Graduation Requirements (current and past enactments)



Recent State Legislation: Assessment - High Stakes/Competency (current and past enactments)



What is P-16 Education? A Primer for Legislators (2001)



ECS StateNote, P-16 Collaboration in the States (August 2000)



Recent State Legislation: P-16 (current and past enactments)



A Noble Opportunity: Leading Education Change Through a P-16 Accountability Model (May 2002)



State Policies for Citizenship Education Online Database



What the Research Says – Assessment - High Stakes/Competency (May 2002)



ECS StateNote, Advanced Placement Exams with an International Focus 2001 State-by-State Comparisons (September 2002)



ECS StateNote, Postsecondary Options: Dual/Concurrent Enrollment (July 2001)



Competency Testing for High School Graduation – Notes on the Texas Lawsuit:  GI Forum v. Texas Education Agency (May 2000)



ECS StateNote, Advanced Placement Courses and Examinations – State-level Policies (January 2000)




Academic Pathways to Access and Student Success (APASS)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

51 Gerty Drive, 129 CRC

Champaign, IL 61820






To identify, examine, and disseminate information about new and emerging academic pathways that extend from high school to college and enhance post-secondary access for underrepresented minority, low income, and first-generation students. By academic pathways, we mean boundary-spanning curriculum and organizational structures that facilitate students' seamless transition across educational levels. Examples include middle and early college high schools, dual credit programs, tech prep, and selected career academies. This project is funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education.


Internet site with 50-state databases to be completed 2005

Achieve, Inc.

1775 Eye Street NW, Suite 410
Washington, DC 20006



[Helping] states prepare all young people for postsecondary education, work and citizenship by raising academic standards and achievement in America's schools.”

Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work?
(February 2005) http://www.achieve.org/dstore.nsf/Lookup/pollreport/$file/pollreport.pdf


The Expectations Gap: A 50-State Review of High School Graduation Requirements (2004) http://www.achieve.org/dstore.nsf/Lookup/coursetaking/$file/coursetaking.pdf


Achieve Comparison of the 2003 10th Grade Washington Assessment of Student Learning with High School Graduation Exams from Other States (October 2004) http://www.achieve.org/dstore.nsf/Lookup/WASL/$file/WASL.pdf


Do Graduation Tests Measure Up? A Closer Look at State High School Exit Exams (2004)



Measuring Up: A Report on Education Standards and Assessments for Montgomery County (February 2003) http://www.achieve.org/dstore.nsf/Lookup/montgomery/$file/montgomery.pdf


Three Paths, One Destination: Standards-Based Reform in Maryland, Massachusetts and Texas (November 2002) http://www.achieve.org/dstore.nsf/Lookup/reportthree-statefinal/$file/reportthree-statefinal.pdf


Alliance for Excellent Education

1201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 901

Washington, DC  20036





The mission of the Alliance for Excellent Education is to make every child a graduate prepared for college, success in life, and to be contributing members of society.

Left Behind: Six Million At-Risk Secondary Students (Issue Brief Revised November 2003)



Adolescent Literacy: Opening the Doors to Success (Issue Brief Updated January 2005)



NCLB and Middle Schools: Confronting the Challenges (July 2003)



The Building Blocks of Success for America’s Middle and High School Students (May 2003)


Straight A's: Public Education: Policy and Progress is a biweekly newsletter that focuses on education news and events both in Washington, D.C., and around the country.

Measuring Graduation to Measure Success (December 2004)



Preparing Today’s Leaders for Tomorrow’s High Schools, the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Second Annual Policy Conference (October 3-5, 2004)


Video highlights and other materials from the Alliance's second annual conference on American high school policy, including addresses by William Raspberry, Anthony Carnevale, Pedro Noguera and Virginia Governor Mark Warner.



American College Testing (ACT)

500 ACT Drive
P.O. Box 168
Iowa City, IA 52243-0168




See online list of field offices at: http://www.act.org/contacts/field.html

ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides more than a hundred assessment, research, information, and program management services in the broad areas of education and workforce development.

Crisis at the Core: Preparing All Students for College and Work

(October 2004)



College Readiness Begins in Middle School (2005) http://www.act.org/research/policy/pdf/CollegeReadiness.pdf


The Role of Academic and Non-academic Factors in Improving College Retention (2004) http://www.act.org/research/policy/pdf/college_retention.pdf


Standards for Transition (2002)

Sets of statements intended to help explain the meaning of the scores earned in ACT's three curriculum-based assessment programs. They represent learning goals that are necessary for success in high school, college and the world of work, and have been developed for all four academic areas measured by ACT: English, mathematics, reading, and science. http://www.act.org/standard/index.html


Career Planning: Students Need Help Starting Early and Staying Focused (2005)



High Skills and High Pay—2004 Update http://www.act.org/research/briefs/2004-2.html


Schools Involving Parents in Early Postsecondary Planning (2004) http://www.act.org/research/policy/pdf/involve_parents.pdf


Maintaining a Strong Engineering Workforce (2003) http://www.act.org/research/policy/pdf/engineer.pdf


Academic and Noncognitive Variables Related to PLAN® Scores (2004)



Retention, ACT Composite Score, and College GPA: What's the Connection? (2004)



Differential Grading Standards Among High Schools (March 2004) http://www.act.org/research/reports/pdf/ACT_RR2004-2.pdf


Inventory of Work-Relevant Values: 2001 Revision (March 2004) http://www.act.org/research/reports/pdf/ACT_RR2004-3.pdf


High School Grade Inflation from 1991 to 2003 (March 2004) http://www.act.org/research/reports/pdf/ACT_RR2004-4.pdf


The Effects of Using ACT Composite Score and High School Average on College Admission Decisions for Racial/Ethnic Groups (2003) http://www.act.org/research/reports/pdf/ACT_RR2003-1.pdf


The Effects of Using EPAS Programs on PLAN and ACT Assessment Performance (2003)



The Relationship Between Schedule Type and ACT Assessment Scores: A Longitudinal Study (2003) http://www.act.org/research/reports/pdf/ACT_RR2003-3.pdf


Constructing a Universal Scale of High School Course Difficulty (2003) http://www.act.org/research/reports/pdf/ACT_RR2003-4.pdf


Relationships Between EPAS Scores and College Preparatory Course Work in High School (2003)



American Diploma Project
(Project of Achieve, Inc. – see above)


This project seeks to establish link between high school expectations and post-graduation demands.

Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts
(February 2004) http://www.achieve.org/dstore.nsf/Lookup/ADPreport/$file/ADPreport.pdf

American Institutes for Research (AIR)

1000 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW

Washington, DC 20007




Divisions: The Education Statistics Services Institute (ESSI) division provides support to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and, through the agency, to the U.S. Census Bureau for development, data quality, and analysis of the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The survey is taken every four years and is the largest and most comprehensive sample survey of kindergarten through grade 12 schools and school staff in the United States. The information offers a measure of teacher demand and shortage, the characteristics of teachers and administrators, school programs, and the general conditions at schools. The survey includes samples of public, private, and public charter schools, as well as Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. In all, more than 100,000 teachers, principals, and school personnel participate.


Education & Human Development Division, School Reform: Scope of work includes accountability, education technology, high school transformation, implementation of NCLB, professional development and teacher quality, reading, math and science instruction, standards-based reform, state and district systemic reform.

High Time for High School Reform: Early Findings from the Evaluation of the National School District and Network Grants Program (April 2003)

Executive Summary: http://www.air.org/publications/documents/ Small_schools_eval_ExecSumm_2003.pdf

Full Report: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/nr/downloads/ed/smallschools/Small_schools_eval_2003.pdf  


Mapping the Terrain: Year 1 of the Evaluation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s National School District and Network Grants Program (2003)




AIR monitors state implementation of Reading First, a U.S. Department of Education high-quality evidence-based program. The Reading First initiative builds on the findings of years of scientific research, which, at the request of Congress, were compiled by the National Reading Panel.



National School District and Networks Grant Program (funded by Gates):

AIR and partners are conducting a multi-year evaluation of the Gates Foundation’s national school networks grants, national districts grants, technical assistance grants, and assessment development grants programs.


AIR and its partners are evaluating the Schools for a New Society Initiative sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation in seven urban communities across the nation. The initiative is designed to strengthen urban high schools through partnerships between districts and significant community-based change agents, redesign of the district role and relationship to schools, and restructured high schools that offer personalized learning environments and improved instruction.


The National Longitudinal Study of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is a four-year longitudinal evaluation of the district and school-level implementation of NCLB, the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). AIR and its partners are exploring the implementation of four key components of NCLB: accountability, teacher quality, choice, and resource allocation. A report of these findings will be delivered to Congress in 2007, preceding the next ESEA reauthorization.


Ohio High School Transformation Initiative: AIR is conducting a multi-year evaluation of the Ohio High School Transformation Initiative, funded through the KnowledgeWorks Foundation. The initiative seeks to transform large urban high schools throughout the state into autonomous smaller schools, each comprising learning communities of approximately 400 students. The initiative seeks to increase academic achievement, provide safer schools, increase graduation rates, improve student attendance, increase teacher satisfaction, and improve parent, family, and community involvement.


New initiative: AIR has brought aboard two well-known school improvement organizations as part of its effort to launch the education reform practice. AIR recently acquired The McKenzie Group, Inc., a nationally recognized firm specializing in urban reform and will complete a merger on January 1, 2005, with New American Schools, an education nonprofit best known for establishing a comprehensive approach to school reform more than a decade ago. AIR’s school improvement approach will focus on districtwide strategies for change.

Bridge Project

The Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research

Stanford University



“While educators and policymakers share the common goal of improving student performance, they often act in isolation; thus, efforts are sometimes conflicting or duplicated, and often certain needs are never addressed. Rather, the current organization of secondary schools and universities is such that communication between levels is often difficult, if not impossible. Reform initiatives at different levels within the entire K-16 education system must be better integrated or the whole mission of increasing opportunities for all students for higher education could veer dangerously off course.”

Betraying the College Dream: How Disconnected K-12 and Postsecondary Education Systems Undermine Student Aspirations
(March 2004)



From High School to College:  Improving Opportunities for Success in Postsecondary Education  (April 2004)

Available for purchase: http://www.bookworkz.com/education/k_12/078797062X.html



Link to project: http://www.stanford.edu/group/bridgeproject/#problem


Center on Education Policy

1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 522
Washington, DC 20036
E-mail: cep-dc@cep-dc.org


A national, independent advocate for better public education and more effective public schools, the Center has projects on dropouts, education and jobs, and exit exams, among others.

State High School Exit Exams: A Maturing Reform
(August 2004) http://www.cep-dc.org/highschoolexit/ExitExamAug2004/ExitExam2004.pdf


Pay Now or Pay Later: The Hidden Costs of High School Exit Exams
(May 2004)


State High School Exit Exams: Put to the Test (August 2003)


Effects of High School Exit Exams on Dropout Rates: Summary of a Panel Discussion (March 2003)



Measuring the Cost of State High School Exit Exams: An Initial Report (February 2003)



State High School Exit Exams: A Baseline Report (August 2002) http://www.cep-dc.org/pubs/statehighschoolexitexams2002/statehighschoolexitexams2002.pdf


Exit Exams Must Address Needs of Mobile Students (November 2002) http://www.cep-dc.org/pubs/eems/eems.pdf


Higher Learning = Higher Earnings: What You Need To Know About College and Careers (September 2001)



Tell Your Children It Pays to Study Hard (March 2000)

Short version: http://www.cep-dc.org/pubs/itpaystostudyhard/studyhardshort.PDF

Long version: http://www.cep-dc.org/pubs/itpaystostudyhard/studyhardlong.PDF


A Young Person’s Guide to Earning and Learning: Preparing for College, Preparing for Careers (April 1998)




Center for Postsecondary Research at the
School of Education
Indiana University
1900 East Tenth Street
Eigenmann 628
Bloomington, IN 47406-7512
E-mail: hssse@indiana.edu

The Center’s mission is “
to document, describe, and monitor student engagement in educationally purposeful activities in secondary schools nationally.”

High School Survey of Student Engagement


The College Board

45 Columbus Avenue

New York, NY 10023-6992


The College Board programs and services include K-12 and higher education for students, parents and educators. For high school students and parents, the Board offers extensive tools and research on the SAT, testing, college pricing, student aid, student budgets and Advanced Placement. 

The Research Behind the New SAT
(January 2005) http://www.collegeboard.com/research/pdf/05889RS11050105.pdf


Everyone Gains: Extracurricular Activities in High School and Higher SAT® Scores (2005)



AP® Use in Admissions: A Response to Geiser and Santelices (March 2005)



Trends in College Pricing (2004) http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/press/cost04/041264TrendsPricing2004_FINAL.pdf


Trends in Student Aid (2004) http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/press/cost04/TrendsinStudentAid2004.pdf


Education Pays 2004: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals

and Society (2004)



Selection Through Individualized Review: A Report on Phase IV of the Admissions Models Project (2004) http://www.collegeboard.com/research/pdf/SelectionReviewbook%20final.pdf


AP Summary Reports (2003) http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/exgrd_sum/2003.html


Many other selections and information on events are available on the College Board site: http://www.collegeboard.com/research/home/



Community College Research Center (CCRC)

Teachers College

Columbia University
525 West 120th Street, Box 174
439 Thorndike Hall
New York, NY 10027






The mission of the Community College Research Center is to carry out and promote research on major issues affecting the development, growth, and changing roles of community colleges in the United States.


Sub-Focus: High School/College Transition Programs: The rapid expansion of these programs and the increase in state and federal support for them demands more exploration of dual-credit programs, how they impact students, and their long-term outcomes on both students and school systems. As such, CCRC is beginning a program of study to address these questions. Two projects currently are underway:


§         Accelerating Student Success through Credit-based Transition Programs

§         Evaluation of the IB School Partnerships Project.









Promoting College Access and Success: A Review of Credit-based Transition Programs (November 2003)



What Role Can Dual Enrollment Programs Play in Easing the Transition Between High School and Postsecondary Education? (March 2002)



Credit-based Transition Programs: Strategies to Improve Postsecondary Access and Success for Middle- and Low-achieving Students (summary of an American Youth Policy Forum), October 2004




Council of Great City Schools

1301 Pennsylvania, NW

Suite 702

Washington, DC 20004






The Achievement Gap task force has produced several publications – none specifically on high school – but the documents do have components that are applicable.  CGCS also supports a task force on bilingual education – working to improve the quality of education provided to English language learners.


Beating the Odds IV:  A City-By-City Analysis of Student Performance and Achievement Gaps on State Assessments, 2002-2003 Results (March 2004)



Restoring Excellence to the District of Columbia Public Schools (January 2004)



Charting a New Course for the Richmond Public Schools (Dec. 2003)



Gateways to Success: A Report on Urban Student Achievement and Course-Taking (June 1999) 

A study prepared by ACT and the Council of the Great City Schools.



Beating the Odds III: A City-By-City Analysis of Student Performance and Achievement Gaps on State Assessments – Results from Spring 2001-2002 School Year (March 2003)



Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)


55 Chapel Street

Newton, MA 02458-1060 Phone: (617) 969-7100

Fax: (617) 969-5979

TTY: (617) 964-5448



International nonprofit covering issues including early child development, K-12 education, health promotion, workforce preparation, community development, learning technologies, basic and adult education, institutional reform, medical ethics and social justice.


Report Series: Mosaic - Focus on High School



Curriculum Summaries (K-12 Mathematics Curriculum Center)



Literacy Matters website (2000 to present)



Center for Family, School and Community (links to various projects, many of which are related to high schools and middle schools)



Educational Testing Service
Rosedale Road
Princeton, NJ 08541 609.921.9000
E-mail: http://www.ets.org/questions.html

Regional site information available at: http://www.ets.org/com mun.html



Evaluating validity and reliability of college entrance, Advanced Placement and high-stakes high school tests as well as practices related to those tests

Understanding What SAT Reasoning Test Scores Add to High School Grades: A Straightforward Approach (2004)



Accommodations on High-stakes Writing Tests for Students with Disabilities (March 2004)



New SAT® Writing Prompt Study: Analysis of Group Impact and Reliability (2004)



Reconsidering the Impact of High-stakes Testing (2003)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r030033.htm


Population Invariance of Score Linking: Theory and Applications to Advanced Placement Program Examinations (2003)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r030030.htm


Applying the Online Scoring Network (OSN) to Advanced Placement Program (AP) Tests (April 2003)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r030013.htm

Full report:: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-03-12-Zhang.pdf


An HIstorical Perspective on the Content of the SAT® (2003)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r030012.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-03-10-Lawrence.pdf


Effect of Fewer Questions Per Section on SAT® I Scores (2003)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r030010.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-03-08-Bridgeman.pdf


Examining the Relationship of Content to Gender-based Performance Differences in Advanced Placement Exams (2002)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r030001.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-02-25-Buck.pdf


The Role of Teachers in Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) Courses (2002) Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r020053.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-02-17-Burton.pdf


Predictive Validity of SAT®I: Reasoning Test for Test-takers with Learning Disabilities and Extended Time Accommodations (2002)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r020045.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-02-11-Cahalan.pdf


The Recentering of SAT® Scales and its Effects on Score Distributions and Score Interpretations (2002)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r020056.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-02-04-Dorans.pdf


The Impact of Flagging on the Admission Process: Policies, Practices, and Implications (2002)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r020034.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-02-03-Mandinach.pdf


Measuring Educational Disadvantage of SAT® Candidates (2002)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r020032.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-02-01-Stricker.pdf


An Analysis of Advanced Placement (AP®) Examinations in Economics and Comparative Government and Politics (2001)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r020021.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-01-17-Breland.pdf


Substituting SAT®II: Subject Tests for SAT I: Reasoning Test – Impact on Admitted Class Composition and Quality (2001)

Abstract: http://www.ets.org/research/researcher/r020011.htm

Full report: http://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/researcher/RR-01-07-Bridgeman.pdf


Standards for What? The Economic Roots of K-16 Reform (2003) http://www.ets.org/research/dload/standards_for_what.pdf


Help Wanted...Credentials Required: Community Colleges in the Knowledge Economy (January 2001)


Help Wanted…College Required (2001) http://www.ets.org/research/dload/HelpWanted.pdf


Crossing the Great Divide: Can We Achieve Equity When Generation Y Goes to College? (2000)



Education = Success: Empowering Hispanic Youth and Adults (1999) http://www.ets.org/research/dload/Success.pdf


Education for What? The New Office Economy (1998)

Executive Summary: http://www.ets.org/research/dload/EdExecSumm.pdf Technical Report: http://www.ets.org/research/dload/EdTechRpt.pdf


All ETS research papers are available through ReSEARCHER, a database of abstracts for all Research Reports and Research Memorandums going back to 1948: http://search.ets.org/custres/.


Education Trust

1250 H St. NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005



The Education Trust-West
155 Grand Avenue,
Suite 1025
Oakland, CA 94612


The Education Trust works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, kindergarten through college, and forever closing the achievement gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from other youth. Our basic tenet is this — All children will learn at high levels when they are taught to high levels.


Stalled in Secondary: A Look at Student Achievement Since the No Child Left Behind Act (January 2005)




Harvard Graduate School of Education

Harvard University

44R Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Media Relations




”New educational research led by Dimon Professor Pedro Noguera has gone beyond the standard examination of high school reform and student success. With direct student participation from 10 Boston and Cambridge area schools, the year-long Pathways for Student Success research project aims to understand the ways in which the achievement and social development of students is affected by the organization and culture of school.



The Occupational Achievement Gap: Aspirations of African-American and White College Students” (2005) http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/features/beasley11012004.html


“Urban Legends of Rural Schools” (January 2005)


What Students Know Best: Pathways Research Relies Heavily on Insight from its Subjects” (July 2002)


Institute for Educational Leadership

4455 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20008
E-mail: iel@iel.org




The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) – a non-profit, nonpartisan organization – envisions a society that uses its resources effectively to achieve better futures for all children and youth. For almost 40 years, IEL's mission continues to be to build the capacity of individuals and organizations in education and related fields to work together – across policies, programs and sectors.


IEL's Beliefs
Our beliefs are the foundation of IEL's programs and services:

§         All children and youth have a birthright: the opportunity and the support to grow, learn, and become contributing members of our democratic society.

§         Quality education is a responsibility shared by school systems, families, communities, businesses, and governments.

§         Strategic alliances and partnerships are essential to achieve measurable and sustainable results for all children and youth.

§         Culturally competent leaders are vital to empowering organizations to address the needs of a diverse society. Leadership and leadership development are critical tools to ensure that all children and youth can take advantage of their birthright.

Gathering Momentum: Building the Learning Connection Between Schools and Colleges - Proceedings of The Learning Connection Conference
(April 2002)

Overcoming the Senior Slump: New Education Policies
(May 2001)
Executive Summary:

See also: National High School Alliance


Jobs for the Future (JFF)

88 Broad Street
Boston, MA 02110



In today's economy, at least some college education is key to a family-sustaining career, yet too many young people leave high school unprepared for an increasingly complex economy. Jobs for the Future studies, supports, and develops ways to provide young people – particularly those who are poorly served by current educational and employment systems – with the learning and credentials they need to make the transition to productive adulthood.



Redesigning High Schools: The Unfinished Agenda in State Education Reform, a two-year project, focuses on the issues that states need to address if they are to promote changes in high schools and communities that enable all youth to achieve at a high level. The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Achieve, and the National Conference of State Legislatures are JFF's partners in this effort. JFF is helping identify key policy issues and preparing an issues paper for governors and their policy advisors. In the second year, JFF will work intensively in one of the three to five states the project will select for assistance in implementing specific policy changes to:

§         Increase awareness among governors and state legislators of the need to transform high schools in order to prepare every student to succeed in postsecondary education without remediation and to continue learning in the workplace

§         Identify models that promote effective learning environments for high school-age youth, whether or not they are presently in school

§         Develop and support governors' task forces or commissions in three to five states, with the mission of developing statewide plans for redesigning high school.

Showcase Projects:

§         Boston High School Renewal: Small Schools Initiative

§         Boston Schools for a New Society Initiative

§         Early College High School Initiative

§         From the Margins to the Mainstream

§         Redesigning High School: State Policy Reform


Ready for Tomorrow: Helping All Students Achieve Secondary and Postsecondary Success (2003)
Summary: http://www.jff.org/jff/PDFDocuments/Readyfortomsummary.pdf

Full report: http://www.jff.org/jff/PDFDocuments/Readyfortomorrow.pdf


Multiple Pathways and State Policy: Toward Education and Training Beyond High School (June 2003)




Accelerating Advancement in School and Work (book chapter, reprinted with permission) (2003)


Integrating Grades 9 Through 14: State Policies to Support and Sustain Early College High Schools (January 2005)

Summary: http://www.jff.org/jff/PDFDocuments/Integrating9to14.summary.pdf

Full report: http://www.jff.org/jff/PDFDocuments/Integrating9to14.pdf


Rigor and Relevance: Can Policy Keep Pace with Changing Practice in Our High Schools? Education Week Commentary (March 13, 2002)





Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

52 Vanderbilt Avenue
New York, NY 10017



Investigated accuracy of dropout/graduation rates


Investigated college readiness and graduation (funded by Gates)

Public School Graduation Rates in the United States (November 2002)



Public High School Graduation and College Readiness Rates in the United States (September 2003)



Testing High Stakes Tests: Can We Believe the Results of Accountability Reports? (February 2003)



National Association of System Heads (NASH)

1725 K St. NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006
E-mail: jsomerville@edtrust.org




The National Association of System Heads (NASH) is a membership organization of chief executive officers of the 52 public higher education systems in 38 states and Puerto Rico. The goal of the association is to improve the governance of public higher education systems. Its member systems enroll the lion's share of college students nationwide – about 70% of all four-year college undergraduates. A major commitment of NASH is to work with K-12 systems and civic leaders to build statewide K-16 vehicles to promote and carry out a coordinated, standards-based education reform strategy.

The NASH website (http://www.nashonline.org/content/k-16info.html) is undergoing major renovation. No current or past publications are accessible at this time.

National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education


152 North Third Street, Suite 705
San Jose, CA  95112

E-mail: center@highereducation.org



The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education promotes public policies that enhance Americans' opportunities to pursue and achieve high-quality education and training beyond high school. As an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the National Center prepares action-oriented analyses of pressing policy issues facing the states and the nation regarding opportunity and achievement in higher education – including two- and four-year, public and private, for-profit and nonprofit institutions.

Measuring Up 2004: The National Report Card on Higher Education
(September 2004)




National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE)

555 13th Street, NW

Suite 500 West

Washington, DC 20004




Workforce development program provides strategic assistance to local leaders, states and federal policymakers interested in building effective workforce and youth development systems


High Skills Consortia programs – states working together to build world-class workforce systems



Policy forum, the American High School Crisis and State Policy Solutions, September 2003, co-sponsored with the National Governors Association and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation










NCEE also offers a leadership initiative and America’s Choice program, a K-12 comprehensive school reform program

Toward a National Workforce Education and Training Policy (June 2003)






High Skills Consortia Program:

Policy forum white papers:

High School and Beyond: The System is the Problem – and the Solution”



“Building the Capacity of Schools, Districts and States to Educate All Students to High Standards: The Case of the America’s Choice School Design”



“Implementation of the Workforce Investment Act: Practices in Workforce Development“



National Institute for School Leadership: http://www.ncee.org/nisl/program/index.jsp?setProtocol=true


America’s Choice: http://www.ncee.org/acsd/acindex.jsp?setProtocol=true


National Commission on the High School Senior Year

(project concluded)




Originally formed in 2001, the National Commission on the High School Senior Year concluded its work with the final report, Raising Our Sights: No High School Senior Left Behind. A partnership between several organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education, the Commission developed numerous recommendations on how to better utilize the senior year of high school, including a college-prep curriculum for all students and easing student transitions between high school and college. Copies of the two major reports can be found on the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation’s website.

The Commission’s initial report, The Lost Opportunity of Senior Year: Finding a Better Way (January 2001)

http://www.woodrow.org/CommissionOnTheSeniorYear/Report/Commission Summary2.pdf



The Commission’s final report, Raising Our Sights: No High School Senior Left Behind (October 2001)




National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

7700 East First Place Denver, CO 80230



Washington Office

444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 515

Washington, DC 20001





The NCSL Education Program collects information related to all state and federal education issues. The program tracks legislative action in the states, identifies new and important research and the effects on public policy, and disseminates information about successful state innovations. NCSL's Education Program has an abundance of information on education policy issues, including No Child Left Behind, education finance, higher education reform and teacher quality. 


The NCSL Education Program provides the Legislative Education Summary Service (LESS): http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/educ_leg.cfm


NCSL hosts the Legislative Education Staff Network (LESN): http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/lesn.htm


and the Education Chairs Network (ECN): http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/ecn.htm.


Education Policy Issues: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/EdIssues.htm

No Child Left Behind: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/NoChild.htm

National Center Education Finance: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/NCEF.htm

Teacher quality:  http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/TOverV.htm


The website has extensive issue sites on 31 issues spanning the P-16 spectrum: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/EdIssues.htm

High School Redesign project summary: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/HSProjOutline.htm


Postsecondary Remedial Education (2004)




National Governors Association (NGA)

NGA Center for Best Practices

Hall of the States

444 N. Capitol Street Washington, D.C. 20001-1512






Virginia Governor Mark Warner selected as his NGA Chairman's Initiative, "Redesigning the American High School."


NGA believes that governors' abilities to increase the effectiveness of postsecondary pathways for the least well-served will serve states' long-term economic prosperity. Improving outcomes for youth will require building our fragmented systems of secondary, postsecondary, and second chance education into a coherent system of education pathways that lead students through at least the second year of college. The redesign of American high schools is central to this system of pathways – and to economic prosperity.


With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the NGA Center for Best Practice's Education Division will support governors and their education advisors as they work to improve high school and college completion rates. The focuses on five issues: (1) school choice; (2) finance;  (3) K-16 accountability; (4) postsecondary articulation; and (5) improving low-performing high schools.


NGA High School Summit

The 2005 National Education Summit on High Schools, held February 26-27, 2005, was sponsored by NGA and Achieve, Inc. in partnership with the Business Roundtable, the James B. Hunt Institute and the Education Commission of the States.



Getting it Done: Ten Steps to a State Action Agenda
A Guidebook of Promising State and Local Practices (2005)

abstract: http://www.nga.org/center/divisions/1,1188,C_ISSUE_BRIEF^D_8033,00.html


Getting it Done: Ten Steps to a State Action Agenda
(Governor Warner’s top 10 list)



Stronger Fiscal Incentives Can Improve High School and Postsecondary Outcomes (2004)

abstract: http://www.nga.org/center/divisions/1,1188,C_ISSUE_BRIEF^D_7202,00.html


Transforming the American High School: New Directions for State and Local Policy  (December 2001)




National High School Alliance

(housed at the Institute for Educational Leadership)

4455 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 310
Washington, DC 20008



The National High School Alliance is a partnership of over 40 organizations representing a diverse cross-section of perspectives and approaches, but sharing a common commitment to promoting the excellence, equity, and development of high school-age youth.



A Call to Action: Transforming High School for All Youth (April 2005)



Crisis or Possibility? Conversations About the American High School (May 2004)



All Over the Map: State Policies to Improve the High School (May 2002)


website also includes links to partner resources such as:

Career Academy Standards of Practice



College Readiness for All Toolbox




Social Science Research Council

810 7th Avenue

New York, NY 10019






The Transitions to College: From Theory to Practice project “examines the extent to which conditions for opportunity and success are available to all American adolescents as they attempt to navigate the transition from secondary school to college and beyond.”


Database of reports, policy briefs, journal articles and other records on transition issues: 



List of over 150 websites related to high school to college transition: http://edtransitions.ssrc.org/weblink.aspx?sid=1&A=9



Southern Governors’ Association

Hall of the States
444 North Capitol

Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20001-



Southern governors have the opportunity to exchange ideas, explore common issues, address pressing problems and promote regional accomplishments. Emphasis is on improving the quality of life, through support of job creation, and increasing workforce participation.

New Traditions: Options for Rural High School Excellence
  (2004) http://www.southerngovernors.org/indexPDF/SGANewTraditions.pdf

Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)
592 10th St. N.W.
Atlanta, GA 30318-5776






Founded in 1948, the Southern Regional Education Board was the nation’s first interstate compact for education. With 16 member states, SREB has set specific Challenge to Lead Goals for Education for every level of education – from early childhood to doctoral degrees and beyond, with special emphasis paid to the economic impact of education on the region as a whole. The website features a special section dedicated to high school improvement through better preparation of students and tougher graduation requirements.



SREB has produced several products dedicated to high school improvement, most notably the High Schools That Work initiative:



The College Readiness series also features several useful reports, in particular the report, Reporting on College Readiness:



Also see High School To College and Careers: Aligning State Policies, which focuses on preparation and transitions between high school, college, and the workforce:




U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20202





National Institute of Statistical Sciences/Education Statistics Services Institute Task Force on Graduation, Completion, and Dropout Indicators: Final Report
(December 2004)

Short version: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/2005105_1.pdf

Full report: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/2005105.pdf


Dropout Rates in the United States: 2001 (November 2004) http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005046


National Assessment of Vocational Education: Final Report to Congress (2004) http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/sectech/nave/index.html


The High School Transcript Study: A Decade of Change in Curricula and Achievement, 1990-2000 (March 2004) http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2004455


Public High School Dropouts and Completers from the Common Core of Data: School Year 2000-01 (November 2003) http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2004310


The 1998 High School Transcript Study Tabulations: Comparative Data on Credits Earned and Demographics for 1998, 1994, 1990, 1987, and 1982 High School Graduates (May 2001)



PowerPoint presentation, New Expectations for a New Century: The Education Imperative (May 2004) http://gearup.ous.edu/documents/powerpoint/Education_Imperative.ppt


Urban Institute

2100 M Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037





Elementary/secondary schools is one of several areas of focus for the Urban Institute, which houses an education policy center that focuses on the following trends and issues:

  • The use of market-based mechanisms to improve schooling
  • The effect of significant shifts in student aid programs during the Clinton administration on college choice, especially low-income students
  • The extent to which a slowing economy will reduce support for education in the states
  • The ways in which technology may reshape the delivery of education services at both the K-12 and post-secondary levels.


High School Graduation, Completion, and Dropout (GCD) Indicators: A Primer and Catalog (December 2004) http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411116_GCDCatalog.pdf


Graduation Rates: Real Kids, Real Numbers  (December 2004)


Beyond Bilingual Education: Immigrant Students and the No Child Left Behind Act  (December 2004)


The Real Truth About Low Graduation Rates: An Evidence-based Commentary (August 2004) http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411050_realtruth.pdf

Who Graduates? Who Doesn’t?
A Statistical Portrait of Public High School Graduation, Class of 2001 (February 2004)
Research report:

PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/410934_WhoGraduates.pdf


Projections of 2003-04 High School Graduates: Supplemental Analyses based on findings from Who Graduates? Who Doesn't? (June 2004) Research report: http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=411019

PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411019_2003_04_HS_graduates.pdf

Losing Our Future:
How Minority Youth Are Being Left Behind by the Graduation Rate Crisis (February 2004)

Research report: http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?NavMenuID= 24&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=8742

PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/410936_LosingOurFuture.pdf

Educational Alternative for Vulnerable Youth:
Student Needs, Program Types, and Research Directions (November 2003)

Research report: http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?Section=ByTopic&NavMenuID=62&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=8667

PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/410898_vulnerable_youth.pdf


Ten Questions (and Answers) about Graduates, Dropouts, and NCLB Accountability (October 2003)


PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/310873_LearningCurve_3.pdf


NCLB Implementation Report: State Approaches for Calculating High School Graduation Rates (October 2003)

Research Report: http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?Section=ByTopic&NavMenuID=62&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=8592

PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/410848_NCLB_Implementation.pdf

Keeping Count and Losing Count: Calculating Graduation Rates for All Students Under NCLB Accountability (August 2003)
Research Report: http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?Section=ByTopic&NavMenuID=62&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=8567

PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/410843_keeping_count.pdf


Towards a Typology of Alternative Education Programs: A Compilation of Elements from the Literature (July 2003)

Research Report: http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?Section=ByTopic&NavMenuID=62&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=8546

PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/410829_alternative_education.pdf

Vulnerable Youth: Identifying Their Need for Alternative Educational Settings (June 2003), Research Report: http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?Section=ByTopic&NavMenuID=62&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=8543

PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/410828_vulnerable_youth.pdf

Caps, Gowns and Games: High School Graduates and NCLB  (May 2003)


PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/310777_LearningCurve_1.pdf

Overlooked and Underserved: Immigrant Students in U.S. Secondary Schools (December 2000)
PDF: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/overlooked.pdf

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)

PO Box 9752

2520 55th Street Boulder, CO 80301-9752



The State Policy Inventory Database Online (SPIDO) is a joint project between WICHE and the Pathways to College Network. SPIDO is designed to provide state and national policymakers, education leaders, practitioners and education consumers with an inventory of state-level policies and resources in key policy domains related to student achievement, access and success in higher education.




The White House (George W. Bush administration)

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Comments: 202.456.1111
President George W. Bush: president@whitehouse. gov
Vice President Richard Cheney: vice.president@white house.gov



To build on America’s education reforms, the President’s high school initiatives will increase the quality of secondary education and ensure that every student graduates from high school prepared to enter college or the workforce with the skills to succeed.”


“No Child Left Behind: High Quality, High School Initiatives” (fact sheet and speech text) (January 12, 2005) http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/01/20050112-3.html and http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/01/20050112-5.html


Education: The Promise of America (September 2004) http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/education/educ_policy_book.pdf


Educating America: The President’s Initiatives for High School, Higher Education and Job Training (May 2004) http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/education/educating_america_policy_book.pdf



© 2006 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). All rights reserved. ECS is a nonprofit, nationwide organization that helps state leaders shape education policy.


To request permission to excerpt part of this publication, either in print or electronically, please fax a request to the attention of the ECS Communications Department, 303.296.8332 or e-mail ecs@ecs.org. 

Helping State Leaders Shape Education Policy