Alignment to Twenty-First-Century Demands
April 23, 2013
This interactive video profile of the Quakertown Community School District (QCSD) is the first of a series providing readers with a real-life, practical story about how district and school leaders are working to improve student learning outcomes through the effective use of digital learning. It examines how QCSD—a small, K–12 public school district in rural southeastern Pennsylvania—worked with important partners, including its local teachers’ union, to improve student outcomes using effective applications of technology and blended learning strategies. Throughout the interactive profile, there are short videos from district practitioners describing how they addressed specific issues.
Call for Action: Transforming Teaching and Learning to Prepare High School Students for College and Careers Policy Brief (PDF)
August 12, 2010
The Online Learning Imperative: A Solution to Three Looming Crises in Education Issue Brief
Currently, K–12 education in the United States is dealing with three major crises, each of which on its own is capable of wreaking havoc on schools and communities around the nation, but together are an all-out perfect storm. Simultaneously, the U.S. education system is facing a growing workforce whose mounting needs for education and training will not be met by the nation’s current public education system; declining state fiscal revenues; and mounting teacher shortages, further crippling low-performing secondary schools. The time for merely rethinking and upgrading the role of technology in education has passed; policy decisions today must embrace a dramatic transformation of teaching and learning. Technology can no longer be thought of simply as an “add-on” tool in education, but rather an integral part of the total educational environment. This issue brief describes these looming crises and suggests ways that online learning can lead the U.S. education system out of them.
Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading Report
April 14, 2010
Although some progress has been made in improving the literacy achievement of students in American high schools during the last twenty years, the majority of students still do not read or write well enough to meet grade-level demands. Poor literacy skills play a role in why many of these students do not complete high school. Among those who do graduate, many will not be ready for college or a career where reading and writing are required. These young people will find themselves at a serious disadvantage in successfully pursuing some form of higher education, securing a job that pays a living wage, or participating in social and civic activities. One often-overlooked tool for improving students’ reading, as well as their learning from text, is writing. This report identifies instructional practices in writing shown to improve students’ reading abilities and recommends ways that teachers can improve students’ reading skills through teaching writing.
Common Standards: The Time Is Now Issue Brief (PDF)
December 17, 2009
After years of debate, the nation is now taking a bold step toward ensuring that all students graduate ready for college and careers. Under the leadership of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, a panel has drafted a set of Common Core State Standards for college and career readiness. These standards will raise expectations for all students and will be the same no matter where students happen to live. That would represent a sea change in American education, one that is sorely needed. The wide variations that currently exist are unacceptable and are especially harmful to low-income students and students of color. All states and schools should expect every student to graduate from high school ready for college and careers. This brief outlines the need for common standards that are rigorous, clear, and focused and suggests ways that common standards will help lay the foundation for a stronger education system that will prepare all students for college and careers.
Preparing Students for College and Career: California Multiple Pathways Issue Brief (PDF)
June 30, 2009
To prepare students for success in life, the twenty-first-century American high school needs to shift its focus from preparing for college or career to achieving college and career readiness for every student. One of the most comprehensive efforts towards this goal is the “multiple pathways” initiative in California, which is a reform model aimed at improving high schools by pairing a rigorous college preparatory curriculum with an industry theme while offering the supports and workplace exposure that can be critical to students’ success. The initiative provides multiyear programs of study that are rigorous, relevant, and directly connected to regional and state economic needs. This brief details the multiple pathways movement in California, developed in response to poor and inequitable student outcomes, as it continues to garner interest and develop a growing base of evidence. The discussion lays out the rationale for the approach and the implications of this California-based effort for stakeholders seeking to address the national dropout crisis.
As the nation embraces the goal of graduating all students college and career ready, there is a growing movement to realign standards, assessments, and accountability systems to that goal. Meaningful Measurement: The Role of Assessments in Improving High School Education in the Twenty-First Century, is a collection of essays by leading experts that discuss important assessment issues, examines promising assessment practices from across the globe, and offers recommendations on how the federal government can support an assessment agenda for the twenty-first century. Topics include: assessments that measure students’ college and career readiness, performance assessments, the role of benchmark assessments, assessing high school students who are English Language learners and students with disabilities, the benefits of international assessments, the role of technology in improving assessments and their use, and how assessment design affects the implementation of a growth model at the high school level.
Action Required: Addressing the Nation’s Lowest-Performing High Schools Policy Brief (PDF)
May 4, 2009
In an age where a postsecondary education, let alone a high school diploma, is increasingly necessary to succeed in the global economy, the growing recognition of a graduation crisis that disproportionately affects poor and minority students has helped galvanize the demand to improve the lowest-performing high schools. Education leaders have a responsibility to provide better options to the students served by such high schools. Addressing the nation’s lowest-performing high schools with effective options for all students—either by transforming them, closing them, or replacing them with multiple other schools—will require a systemic strategy that involves stakeholders and policymakers at all levels, establishes the necessary conditions for success, and promotes organizational practices and instructional strategies within a school that lead to improved teaching, learning, and outcomes. This brief examines the current federal approach to addressing the lowest-performing high schools; explores lessons learned from emerging strategies at the state and local level; and provides related recommendations for federal policy.
Short Sighted: How America’s Lack of Attention to International Education Studies Impedes Improvement Policy Brief (PDF)
March 23, 2009
To future generations, Americans’ current educational myopia is likely to appear, at best, a negligent failure to anticipate and meet the needs of the nation and its citizens. And for the sake of those future generations, the short-sighted practices and parochial policies that have delayed significant improve-ment in the nation’s educational advancement must change. To provide students with a world-class education, the United States, beginning with strong leadership from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), must adopt a more global outlook. The tools and opportunities already exist; indeed, the United States has even subsidized their creation. Now the nation needs to participate in, learn from, and act on the results of internationally benchmarked assessments.
From No Child Left Behind to Every Child a Graduate Report (PDF)
August 28, 2008
This report outlines the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Framework for Action to Improve Secondary Schools, which reflects the consensus among educators, researchers, policymakers, and other authorities on the specific problems of secondary schools, as well as on the research- and best-practice-supported solutions to those problems. Taken together, the seven policy areas contained within the framework offer a comprehensive and systemic approach to secondary school reform.
Reading for the 21st Century: Adolescent Literacy Teaching and Learning Strategies Issue Brief (PDF)
January 1, 2004
Young people need to develop strong literacy skills to communicate effectively, gain respect from peers and authority, participate in their communities in a meaningful way, and fully contribute to society. Building literacy, therefore, goes far beyond improving a child’s ability to read and write. It speaks to the larger societal issues of access and equity. In our society, being literate opens doors, allowing one to access power, and in many cases, helps to level the playing field. However, approximately 1 in 4 young people are struggling to read and comprehend grade level textbooks and subject matter materials as they enter middle and high school.
Adolescents and Literacy: Reading for the 21st Century Report (PDF)
November 10, 2003
NOTE: Print copies no longer available. Please download report in pdf format.
Examines the reliable, empirical research that exists on how to improve the literacy of children in grades four through 12. It brings together the key findings of the best available research on issues related to adolescent literacy. It also offers policymakers and the public a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities that confront the nation as it begins to work to improve the literacy levels of older children. The report demonstrates that we already know a great deal about reading comprehension and about effective methods for helping students of all ages become better readers.