Published Online: May 3, 2006

Report Roundup

Lessons From Successful High School Improvement Models Distilled

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A recent study distills the lessons learned from three successful high school improvement models.

The study, conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit research organization based in New York City and Oakland, Calif., examined three improvement models: Career Academies, First Things First, and Talent Development. Used in a total of 2,500 schools nationwide, the three models were developed independently by different researchers.

The report identifies the common elements of those three models that were key to their success. It notes, for instance, that smaller learning communities seem to be effective in improving students’ sense of connectedness to their schools, and that “catch-up” classes for low-performing 9th graders were instrumental in helping them stay on track in later grades.

A bottom-line conclusion of the report is that structural changes, such as smaller learning communities, need to happen in tandem with instructional improvements to produce lasting gains in student learning.

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