The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that states and districts implement evidence based reform in low graduation rate high schools.
Specifically, they are required to conduct needs assessments for high schools with graduation rates of 67% or less and then assemble a set of evidence based practices and reforms that address the identified needs and build upon existing effective practices.
To successfully implement the ESSA provisions around low graduation rate high schools, state departments of education and school districts need a strong understanding of both the needs of low graduation rate high schools and knowledge of what the existing and emerging evidence bases indicate are effective practices and strategies to address those needs.
This road map is designed to provide a brief synthesis of what is known about the needs of low graduation rate high schools and evidence based remedies that have been shown to work in them.
In the synthesis, evidence-based is defined in accordance with ESSA regulations. Strategies and actions are then further screened to meet the authors definition of practice validated which means they have been shown to work in low graduation rate high schools. The road map then is grounded in the authors twenty years of experience working on reform efforts in and with low graduation rate high schools. It is not presented, as a criteria based practice guide of the type produced by the What Works Clearinghouse, but rather as experienced-based road map informed by the existing evidence base.
The good news is that the existing evidence-base on reforming low graduation rate high schools has grown tremendously in the past twenty years.
Over the past 10 years, the number of low graduation rate high schools has been cut in half. The efforts which led to this, including those that succeeded and those that did not, as well, as the push to make education a more evidence based enterprise means there is much more research and field based knowledge to draw upon toady than at the start of No Child Left Behind.
As a result, we are in a much better position to diagnosis the needs of the remaining low graduation rate high schools and benchmark their current state against demonstrated models of what effective high schools in high poverty environments need to do.
This means that over the course of ESSA we should be able to move towards identifiable sets of evidence based and practice validated standards of practice with which to respond to the identified needs of low graduation rate high schools. The road map is designed to get us started on that journey.
We are seeking input from the field on the road map. As such, over the next two months, we will be releasing iterative versions, of its three sections.
- What do We Know About Assessing Need and Progress in Low Graduation Rate High Schools
- What do we Know about Evidence based Responses to Address Assessed Need in Low Graduation Rate High Schools?
- What do we know about the Complimentary Roles States, School Districts, External Partners, and School Leaders can play in Improving Low Graduation Rate High Schools?