Low-performing high schools, particularly those serving low-income communities and students of color, are often characterized by high absentee and course failure rates, substantial dropout rates, and — even for graduates — inadequate preparation for postsecondary education and the labor market.
It is important that children who are learning to read be exposed to high-quality, research-based curricula, but it is also essential that teachers be well versed in the instructional practices that promote early literacy (see the description of Reading First for more on this topic).
Many low-income children in the early grades need after-school care. And many of these children score well below their more advantaged peers on standardized tests of reading and math.
The Reading First Program, established under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, represents one of the most direct and intensive efforts by the federal government to influence instructional practice and student achievement in low-performing schools.
Today’s labor market puts a high premium on literacy skills, even in jobs that once required little education or training. Not being able to read or write can stand in the way of finding and keeping a job or earning a living wage. Literacy can also affect one’s ability to be an educated consumer, an informed voter, and a helpful parent or grandparent.
The problems of urban middle and high schools are rooted in the inadequate preparation that too many students receive in elementary schools, and these problems become most visible in the ninth grade, when students encounter more demanding coursework and tougher requirements for grade-level promotion.
Launched in Houston in 1993 by James Ketelsen, retired CEO of Tenneco, and since expanded to 12 additional school districts, Project Graduation Really Achieves Dreams (GRAD) combines a variety of promising reforms to improve instruction and raise student achievement in schools that serve primarily minority and low-inco