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Facing the Future: Financing Productive Schools - Dec. 2008

This is the conclusion of an extensive six-year national study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study's final report, Facing the Future: Financing Productive Schools, authored by Paul Hill, Marguerite Roza, and James Harvey, criticizes school finance systems because they are so burdened by rules and narrow policies that they commit dollars "with little regard for results, holding adults accountable for compliance but not results."  Facing the Future offers a four-part action plan to overhaul today's outmoded school finance systems:

  • Drive funds to schools based on student counts--the money would be given to principals to allocate and manage within their individual schools. A weighting formula could be used to provide extra funds for disadvantaged students.
  • Concentrate federal funds on low-income students--direct money on the basis of student characteristics right down to the individual student's school.
  • Redesign states' school finance systems for continuous improvement--demand innovation and continuous improvement, keeping what works and discarding what does not.
  • Base accountability on performance--make superintendents and the chief of state schools responsible for judging school performance and finding better options for children whose schools do not teach them effectively.
Understanding High School Graduation Rates (Nov. 2008)

Far too many of our high school students, particularly poor and minority students, are leaving school without a high school diploma. Understanding High School Graduation Rates provides the latest graduation rate statistics, demonstrates graduation gaps between demographic groups, illustrates the discrepancies in graduation rates reported by government and independent sources, and examines the economic costs of dropouts to individuals and society.

American Indian and Alaska Native Students and U.S. High Schools (Nov. 2008)
There are an estimated 4.4 million American Indian and Alaska Native people living in the continental United States, representing 1.5 percent of the total population. They are citizens of the United States, and many are also citizens of the respective tribal nations to which they belong. Unfortunately, many American Indian and Alaska Native students do not receive the support they deserve from their respective learning communities. The nation must commit to ensuring the well-being of these students and the quality of the education they receive, particularly given the clear evidence of striking disparities in their educational achievement and attainment levels.
Youth Entrepreneurship Education In America: A Policymaker's Guide - November 2008

To date, youth Entrepreneurship Education programs are in place in some communities, but most American youths have little or no access to such training. We believe that local, state, and federal policymakers must remedy this situation by making a major commitment to expanding the availabilityof youth Entrepreneurship Education. The goal of the Aspen Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group is to ensure that each graduate from a high school that serves in a low-income community has educational opportunities to explore his or her entrepreneurial potential. - November 2008

One Dream, Two Realities: Perspectives of Parents on America's High Schools
Based on a survey and focus groups, examines parents' engagement and satisfaction with their children's high schools, by income, race/ethnicity, education, and school performance. Suggests ways for schools and parents to work together more effectively.

Published: October 2008 by Civic Enterprises
Authors: Bridgeland, J. M.; Dilulio, J. J.; Streeter, R. T.; & Mason, J. R.
Funder(s): Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Related Organization(s): Peter D. Hart Research Associates
Subject(s): Elementary and Secondary Education, School Reform
Student-led Solutions to the Nation's Dropout Crisis: A Report by Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) - Nov. 2008

The purpose of this report is to outline the key findings and policy recommendations that VOYCE student leaders believe have the potential to impact the dropout rate. VOYCE's key findings from the research process include:

  • Students in Chicago Public Schools have internalized the problem of the dropout rate and believe that they are the ones to blame for the failures of the school system. There is a difference between perception and reality when it comes to the reasons for the dropout rate, and it is only through a deeper critical analysis that students come to realize the systemic problems impacting public education.
  • Additionally, youth researchers found that dropping out is not something that students plan or anticipate. It is something that happens slowly over time.
  • VOYCE found that while teachers, parents, and students agree that relevance in curriculum is critical to students' engagement in school, students feel that relevance is largely missing in their schools. This lack of relevance leaves students without a clear sense of purpose when it comes to their education.
Why Students Drop Out of School: A Review of 25 Years of Research - BRIEF (Oct. 2008)

To address the dropout crisis requires a better understanding of why students drop out. Although dropouts themselves report a variety of reasons for leaving school, these reasons do not reveal the underlying causes, especially multiple factors in elementary or middle school that may influence students' attitudes, behaviors, and performance in high school prior to dropping out. To better understand the underlying causes behind students' decisions for dropping out, this study reviewed the past 25 years of research on dropouts. The review is based on 203 published studies that analyzed a variety of national, state, and local data to identify statistically significant predictors of high school dropout and graduation. Although in any particular study it is difficult to demonstrate a causal relationship between any single factor and the decision to quit school, a large number of studies with similar findings does suggest a strong connection. The research review identified two types of factors that predict whether students drop out or graduate from high school: factors associated with individual characteristics of students, and factors associated with the institutional characteristics of their families, schools, and communities.
Authors: Rumberger, R., Lim, S. (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Why Students Drop Out of School: A Review of 25 Years of Research - FULL REPORT (Oct. 2008)

To address the dropout crisis requires a better understanding of why students drop out. Although dropouts themselves report a variety of reasons for leaving school, these reasons do not reveal the underlying causes, especially multiple factors in elementary or middle school that may influence students' attitudes, behaviors, and performance in high school prior to dropping out. To better understand the underlying causes behind students' decisions for dropping out, this study reviewed the past 25 years of research on dropouts. The review is based on 203 published studies that analyzed a variety of national, state, and local data to identify statistically significant predictors of high school dropout and graduation. Although in any particular study it is difficult to demonstrate a causal relationship between any single factor and the decision to quit school, a large number of studies with similar findings does suggest a strong connection. The research review identified two types of factors that predict whether students drop out or graduate from high school: factors associated with individual characteristics of students, and factors associated with the institutional characteristics of their families, schools, and communities.
Authors: Rumberger, R., Lim, S. (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Facts for Education Advocates: Demographics & the Racial Divide (Oct. 2008)

Recognizing that no tool is more important than information to help educators and other advocates improve the country's educational system, the College Board and the Alliance for Excellent Education have formed a partnership to develop a series of fact sheets highlighting the state of American schools and their students. The third in a multi-issue series provides a "Facts for Education Advocates" feature focusing on the demographics and racial divide in today's schools.

Financing Education Options for Struggling Students and Out-of-School Youth in Michigan: Report and Recommendations for State Policy (2008)

This report is the result of a study of existing education finance policy and programming in the state of Michigan. Research was conducted in the spring and summer of 2008 by the NYEC with funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. In focusing on how Michigan state policies affect the financing of education options, NYEC seeks to enable and encourage Michigan and its communities to develop policies that facilitate the creation of viable education options and multiple pathways to a high school diploma for struggling students at risk of dropping out and for those who have already left school. The report offers specific recommendations for improving the policy climate for the expansion of education options, describing policies and initiatives in other states that Michigan might consider. 

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