New Article Gathers Research and Perspectives on Improving Postsecondary Readiness


March 23, 2017


High school classroom

Many promising approaches are available to help high schools better prepare students for postsecondary achievement, but what evidence is out there to support these improvement models?

Education Northwest’s Steve Fleischman and Christopher Mazzeo, along with two other authors, address this question in an article recently published in Teachers College Record titled “Improving High School Success: Searching for Evidence of Promise.”

“Our article gathers in one place the latest evidence about approaches such as dual-enrollment and early-college high schools, early warning systems, small schools and smaller learning communities and charter high schools,” Fleischman says.

The article notes that several high school improvement strategies still have limited supporting evidence, including early warning systems, college-readiness indicators and other data-focused models.

Mazzeo stresses that in addition to new evidence, more cross-field conversations that look across models are needed to see what states, districts and schools can learn from research on high school improvement as a whole.

Questions that can drive these conversations include:

  • What makes a school successful and/or special?
  • Can these qualities be reproduced and at a lower cost?

The article also suggests sponsors consider funding research that can result in more definitive answers about which models work, under what conditions and for what students.

“Long-term funding of research has been crucial to learning about small high schools in New York City and the early-college model, both of which have been underwritten continuously by private funders for more than a decade,” Mazzeo says.

Although the knowledge base regarding promising strategies and programs to improve high schools is stronger today than ever before, the authors agree it is not yet sufficient to guide policy and practice.

“We particularly need careful research that helps illuminate the ‘how’ of reform—the mechanisms through which an early warning system is successful in overcoming the various improvement challenges that high school presents and producing the kinds of student success outcomes that all reformers want.” —Christopher Mazzeo

You can read an abstract of the article on the ERIC website.