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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition: Creating opportunities for youth with disabilities to achieve successful futures.

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Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic (2010)
America’s Promise Alliance’s “Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic” reports signs that America is reducing the number of high school dropouts. “Dropout factory” high schools (where 40% or more students fail to graduate) fell by 13%, from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,746 in 2008. Common elements to success included strong leadership with clear graduation-rate goals, multi-sector collaboration guided by data, commitment to innovation and continuous improvement, technical assistance for evidence-based solutions, raising expectations, improving policies, and increasing student supports.

Diploma Options, Graduation Requirements, and Exit Exams for Youth with Disabilities: 2011 National Study (2012)
This is the fifth in a series of similar studies on state graduation policies and diploma options conducted by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the University of Minnesota (Thurlow, Ysseldyke, & Anderson, 1995; Guy, Shin, Lee, & Thurlow, 1999; Johnson & Thurlow, 2003; Johnson, Thurlow, & Stout, 2007). The present study was undertaken to update the status of graduation policies across the nation. It follows up on previous work, the last study having been conducted in 2006-2007. Three research questions served as the focus of this national study of high school graduation requirements and diploma options for students with and without disabilities:

  1. What is the range and variation in state graduation requirements and diploma options across the United States for students with and without disabilities?
  2. What are the intended and unintended consequences that result for students when they are required to pass exit exams to receive a high school diploma?
  3. What are the intended and unintended consequences of using single or multiple diploma options for students with disabilities?

Dropout Prevention for Students with Disabilities: A Critical Issue for State Education Agencies (2007)
This Issue Brief from the National High School Center provides guidance to states as they respond to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) requirements related to dropout prevention for students with disabilities. It also discusses State Performance Plans as starting points for states to develop data collection and monitoring procedures, and provides states with considerations and recommendations for adopting a consistent method of tracking dropout data. Available in PDF (11 pages, 100 KB).

Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programs: A Technical Report (2007)
This study, conducted by NDPC/N, and sponsored by Communities In Schools Inc., finds that there are multiple risk factors which increase the likelihood that students will drop out. The evidence clearly shows that dropout is always the result of a long process of disengagement that sometimes begins before the child enrolls in kindergarten. The report also provides information on 50 programs that were found to be effective in addressing these risk factors.

Fostering Student Success: Five Strategies You Can (and Should) Do, Starting Next Week (2005)
This article, from the Impact newsletter of the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), University of Minnesota, outlines five practical strategies to foster success in high school for youth with EBD that should be a part of any secondary education program: access to vocational assessments, explicit links between learning and adult life, opportunities to control their destinies, involvement in the non-academic side of schooling, and engagement in the learning process.

Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities: Ensuring Meaningful Diplomas for All Students (2013)
This policy brief was developed through a partnership with the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota and Achieve to provide guidance to state education policy leaders to support the goal of ensuring that students with disabilities leave school with meaningful diplomas by providing background on the diverse characteristics of students with disabilities and their high school and postsecondary attainment, by exploring the policy landscape across states and by providing recommendations to states about how to improve current approaches to high school graduation requirements for students with disabilities and promote the successful completion of these students with the knowledge and skills to be college and career ready.

The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools (2009)
If the high school students who dropped out of the Class of 2009 had graduated, the nation’s economy would have benefited from nearly $335 billion in additional income over the course of their lifetimes according to “The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools,” an issue brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education. Available in pdf (549 KB, 6 pp).
See also: State-Level Findings: Boosting the Nation’s Economy by Improving High School Graduation Rates among Students of Color and Native Students (2011)
The Alliance for Excellent Education, with support from State Farm®, has developed an economic model that demonstrates the economic benefits – including increased earnings, home and vehicle sales, job growth, and tax revenue – of improving high school graduation rates among students of color and Native students. Available in PDF (9 pages, 510 KB).

The High School Dropout Dilemma and Special Education Students (2011)
The severity of the dropout crisis in California and the nation varies widely among student groups. Special education students, who represent 11% of all school-age students nationally and 9% in California, are one of the most impacted groups. This report examines four topics related to the dropout dilemma for special education students: the definition and incidence of dropouts, the economic and social consequences of dropping out, the causes of dropping out, and possible solutions to the dropout dilemma. To the extent possible, the report highlights both the national dropout picture and the situation in California. The authors conclude that current trends toward modest improvements in graduation rates among special education students are insufficient. Increased attention and societal investments in interventions, strategies, and programs that emphasize student engagement and retention, especially for special education students, are critically needed.

Making Connections Across Indicators to Improve Post-School Outcomes: Early State Efforts (2008)
The National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities, in partnership with the National Post-School Outcomes Center, has created this online guide which provides information on six states that have begun to display, analyze, and apply data across IDEA Part B Indicators 1, 2, 13, and 14.

Making Every Diploma Count: Using Extended-Year Graduation Rates to Measure Student Success (2011)
The American Youth Policy Forum, Gateway to College National Network, and the National Youth Employment Coalition with support from numerous national youth-serving organizations have produced this issue brief to encourage use of extended-year graduation rates in yearly progress calculations and incorporation of these rates into state accountability systems. The brief aims to educate states on the flexibilities that currently exist to use extended-year graduation rates to encourage schools and districts to continue to work with overage, under-credit students.

School Dropout and Teen Moms with Learning Disabilities (2008)
This article, from the Impact newsletter of the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), University of Minnesota, shares some findings from the Young Moms Study at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This study explored the factors related to high school dropout among a sample of African American and Latina teenage mothers with learning disabilities (LD) in a large urban area. The study included interviews with 10 teenage mothers with LD who had dropped out of school and 10 who had not dropped out and were on track to complete their secondary education. It also included focus groups with 24 educational and social service professionals.

What Every Leader for School Improvement Needs to Know About Student and Learning Supports (2011)
Schools aim at improving students’ achievement and well-being; enhancing school climate; and doing more about learning problems (bullying, harassment, and other forms of violence and acting out, substance abuse, disconnected students, nonattendance, dropouts, teen pregnancy, suicide prevention, etc.). Based on previous Center policy and practice analyses, this report synthesizes key challenges for school improvement in barriers to learning and teaching, and implications for improving how schools deal with such challenges. It includes references to the Center analyses from which this synthesis was derived and guides for leadership development. Available in PDF (6 pages, 30.4 KB).

Web Sites

Alliance for Excellent Education
The Alliance for Excellent Education seeks to ensure that at-risk middle- and high-school students achieve high standards and graduate prepared for college and success in life. This organization promotes the adoption of four research-based initiatives constituting a Framework of Excellence. These initiatives address adolescent literacy, teacher and principal quality, college preparation, and small learning communities.

Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR)
CRESPAR’s mission is research, development, evaluation, and dissemination of information on school-based and community-based programs and practices aimed at ensuring that each child reaches his or her full potential, regardless of family circumstances or other risk factors. CRESPAR’s work is organized into four programs of study: early and elementary education; middle and high schools; school, family, and community partnerships; and systemic supports for school reform. CRESPAR is a collaborative effort of Johns Hopkins University and Howard University.

Center for the Social Organization of Schools
This center at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University is an educational research and development center with a 30-year history of studying K-12 education issues and using its findings to improve low-performing schools and the quality of education they offer students. The Center maintains a staff of full-time sociologists, psychologists, social psychologists, and educators who conduct programmatic research to improve the education system, as well as full-time support staff engaged in developing curricula and providing technical assistance to help schools use the center's research. The center currently includes the Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships and the Everyone Graduates Center.

Check and Connect: A Comprehensive Student Engagement Intervention
The Check & Connect model promotes students' engagement with school, reduce dropout, and increase school completion. The model originated from a partnership of researchers, practitioners, parents, and students led by the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
NCES collects and analyzes data related to education in the United States and other countries. NCES develops annual reports including Condition of Education and Digest of Education Statistics. NCES also has several surveys and programs, including High School and Beyond (a longitudinal study) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)
NCEO focuses on assuring the participation of students with disabilities in national and state assessments, standards-setting efforts, and graduation requirements. Topics addressed by NCEO include accommodations, accountability, alternate assessments, graduation requirements, limited English proficiency, out-of-level testing, reporting, standards, and universal design.

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N)
NDPC/N serves as a clearinghouse for information on dropout prevention. NDCP/N conducts research, produces publications, and offers a variety of professional development activities. NDCP/N compiles a database of promising programs designed to prevent dropout, which can be accessed via its Web site. Program Assessment and Review (PAR) is a professional service provided by NDPC/N to promote student achievement and increase graduation rates.

National Longitudinal Transition Study—2 (NLTS2)
NLTS2 is a study designed to document the experiences of a national sample of students with disabilities as they make the transition from high school into adult roles. NLTS2 focuses on a range of topics, including high school coursework, extracurricular activities, academic performance, postsecondary education and training, employment, independent living, and community participation. NLTS2 provides access to data online and produces reports, brochures, and newsletters of interest to many audiences.

National Post-School Outcomes Center
The National Post-School Outcomes Center, a five-year project funded by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education in December 2004, developed practical, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable strategies for collecting and using data to improve secondary, transition, and postsecondary outcomes for youth with disabilities; and identified state needs and provided technical assistance to improve systems for post-school outcome data collection and use.

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
OSEP is a federal office that assists states and local school districts in improving results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. OSEP offers IDEA-authorized formula grants to states and also makes available discretionary grants to colleges, universities, and other nonprofit organizations to support research, demonstration projects, technical assistance, technology, personnel development, parental training, and information centers.

What Works Clearinghouse (WWC)
Established in 2002, WWC is a central, independent, trusted source of evidence on what works in education. Through Web-based databases, the WWC provides decision-makers with information based on high-quality scientific research. This information includes reviews of potentially replicable interventions to enhance student outcomes, information about evaluation studies of interventions, scientifically rigorous reviews of test instruments used to assess educational effectiveness, and lists of individuals and organizations willing to conduct evaluations of educational interventions.


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This page was last updated on January 12, 2022.