MDRC in the News

High School Redesign Gets Presidential Lift

Education Week


A flurry of good news appeared on the high school front this winter. Graduation rates were at their highest mark in nearly 40 years, record numbers of students were taking and passing Advanced Placement exams, and more high schools than ever were offering college credit through dual-enrollment programs.

On top of all that, President Barack Obama applauded high school redesign efforts in his State of the Union address and encouraged districts to look to successful models for inspiration. Last week, he followed up with a request in his fiscal 2014 budget proposal for a new, $300 million competitive-grant program….

…Many agree on some common principles that are providing direction for high schools as they map out what change will look like for students….

…William Corrin, the deputy director for K-12 education policy with MDRC, a New York City-based research organization, said some schools can manage to transform on their own, but it usually takes support from partner organizations or grants. “There are multiple pathways to get there,” he said. “The priority for schools is to think about how to put in evidence-based approaches.”

While the federal focus on redesign places a sense of urgency to see results quickly, Mr. Corrin cautions that successful redesign takes time. “We live in a world where there is pressure to see outcomes for kids change in a year,” he said. “The needs are pressing, but reform doesn’t happen overnight, … it requires three or four years. It’s a combination of time and patience.”

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