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Improving High School Success: Searching for Evidence of Promise


by Christopher Mazzeo, Steve Fleischman, Jessica Heppen & Theresa Jahangir — 2016

Improving the nation’s high schools—particularly those that are low-performing—involves challenges that are far easier to catalog than to surmount. In this article, the authors identify a handful of promising approaches that can help to achieve the goal that all students will graduate from high school well-prepared for further learning, successful careers, and engaged citizenship. The authors explain the theories that drive these high school improvement models, review evidence of their effectiveness to date, and suggest what it will take to make them work well. The authors stress that no single school improvement model or approach, no matter how powerful, can ensure the success of all students or schools. The reasons for poor performance are complex and determined by multiple intersecting personal, community, and organizational factors. These inequities have very real consequences for schooling and makes the job of improvement that much more challenging. The article concludes with a set of recommendations for policy makers, researchers, and sponsors of research to enhance the evidence base and increase our knowledge of how high schools and high school success outcomes can improve over time.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 13, 2016, p. 1-32
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 19634, Date Accessed: 10/18/2017 7:12:52 AM

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About the Author
  • Christopher Mazzeo
    Education Northwest
    E-mail Author
    CHRISTOPHER MAZZEO, Ph.D. is the Director for Evidence Use and Policy at Education Northwest, a nonpartisan, nonprofit applied research and development organization based in Portland, Oregon. Mazzeo serves as Director of REL Northwest and also leads the organization's research and practice line focused on postsecondary and career readiness. Prior to joining Education Northwest, Mazzeo spent three years with the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) where he directed CCSR's national policy and capacity-building training and technical assistance efforts focused on high school success and postsecondary readiness.
  • Steve Fleischman
    Education Northwest
    E-mail Author
    STEVE FLEISCHMAN is the Chief Executive Officer of Education Northwest. Fleischman’s education career has focused on supporting the use of evidence to foster sustained school improvement. Before joining Education Northwest, Fleischman was a vice president at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where he created and led a number of U.S. Department of Education-funded school improvement projects such as the Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center, the Supplemental Educational Services Quality Center, and the Scientific Evidence in Education Forums.
  • Jessica Heppen
    American Institutes for Research
    E-mail Author
    JESSICA HEPPEN is a managing researcher in the Education Program at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), and serves as AIR’s practice area leader for education technology and innovation. Her research is primarily focused on technology, mathematics, and data use in secondary schools, with an emphasis on improving academic outcomes for diverse learners. She is also currently the principal investigator for an IES grant-funded study of the implementation and impacts of Check & Connect, a dropout prevention mentoring program with a strong data use component.
  • Theresa Jahangir
    Gresham High School
    E-mail Author
    THERESA JAHANGIR is a high school guidance counselor at Gresham High School in East Multnomah County, near Portland, Oregon. Previously, she served as a technical assistance provider with Education Northwest specializing in postsecondary and career readiness and as the Program Administrator and Head Counselor in the Student Family and Community Support Department at San Francisco Unified School District.
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