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Promising Solutions for the Least Productive American High Schools


by James M McPartland, Robert Balfanz, Will J. Jordan & Nettie E. Legters 2002

The extent and location of weak learning environments and poor student outcomes in American high schools need to be better understood if we are to focus attention and resources where reforms are most needed. We begin this chapter by providing various indicators of the serious problems affecting high schools and then describe how the indicators are concentrated in large high schools in high-poverty areas. There is an emerging consensus that comprehensive reform approaches that address high school organization and operations offer promising solutions to these problems. Therefore, we also provide a brief history of earlier reform recommendations that have evolved into the comprehensive change models now available. We conclude with a description of four common components of comprehensive reform models for high schools, with examples and recent evaluation evidence from one selected model that offers specific materials and support systems.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol. 101, No. 2.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 10, 2002, p. 148-170
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18645, Date Accessed: 3/26/2017 1:04:14 PM

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About the Author
  • James McPartland
    Johns Hopkins University
    E-mail Author
    JAMES M. McPARTLAND is the Director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools and a Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University, where he has recently led the team developing the Talent Development High School with Career Academies comprehensive reform model.
  • Robert Balfanz
    Johns Hopkins University
    E-mail Author
    ROBERT BALFANZ is an Associate Research Scientist in the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, where he is Co-Director of the Talent Development Middle School project and Associate Director of the Talent Development High School project.
  • Will Jordan
    Johns Hopkins University
    WILL J. JORDAN is a Senior Sociologist at The CNA Corporation in Alexandria, Virginia, and formerly was an Associate Research Scientist and the Associate Director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Nettie Legters
    Johns Hopkins University
    E-mail Author
    NETTIE E. LEGTERS is an Associate Research Scientist in the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, where she is also Associate Director of the Talent Development High Schools program.
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