Preparing high school students for college

A new study from the National Center for Postsecondary Research and MDRC examines a number of college readiness partnership programmes operating in Texas. These programmes, co-sponsored by a college and, usually, a high school, are designed to prepare high school students to start college ready to undertake college-level work. According to the authors, both the literature and their research findings generally support these programmes’ potential to improve college readiness for students in the “academic middle”.

The authors identify a number of implications for college readiness partnership programmes and the partnerships themselves. For example, they say that those seeking to implement college readiness partnership programmes should consider that many programmes, especially those that are intensive, can only serve limited numbers of students. As such, they say that institutions may want to match college-going students who are academically underprepared with more intensive programmes and direct those students who primarily need assistance with “college knowledge” to less intensive programmes.

Source: Preparing high school students for college (2012), MDRC

Evaluating New York City’s small schools of choice

The latest findings have been published of a rigorous study on the effectiveness of 105 “small schools of choice” (SSCs) in New York City. These academically nonselective schools, each with approximately 100 students per year in grades 9 to 12 (age 14–18), were created to serve some of the district’s most disadvantaged students. They are located mainly in areas where large failing high schools had been closed. According to MDRC, which carried out the research, the schools emphasise academic rigour and strong and sustained personal relationships among students and faculty. In addition, most were founded with community partners who offer additional teaching support and resources, and provide students with additional learning opportunities.

A 2010 study showed that SSCs are markedly improving academic progress and graduation prospects for their students. In this new policy brief, the analysis is extended by a year, and shows that SSCs have positive and sustained impacts on graduation rates, as well as a positive effect on a measure of college readiness.

Source: Transforming the high school experience: How New York City’s new small schools are boosting student achievement and graduation rates (2010), MDRC