Skip Navigation

Our Publications

The National High School Center develops tools and products on the latest practices and information on pressing high school improvement topics. Below, you will be able to access reports, briefs, fact sheets, guides, and brochures produced by the National High School Center on a variety of current high school issues. Please also visit our High School Knowledge Database to access external, vetted resources by high school topic area.

National High School Center Publication Focus Areas:


Access for Students with Disabilities

Special Education in High School Redesign Special Education in High School Redesign
This annotated bibliography, co-authored by the National High School Center and the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center, identifies articles that address high school redesign as it relates to students with disabilities and special education’s role in such initiatives. The articles are organized around the National High School Center’s Eight Elements of High School Improvement: A Mapping Framework to ensure a more comprehensive set of resources that address the key systemic elements of high school improvement. The bibliography also includes a table that identifies the type of each publication source and the key elements it relates to. (May 2011)
What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools: A Focus on Students with Disabilities What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools: A Focus on Students with Disabilities
Freshman year course performance—more than background characteristics such as race, gender, socioeconomic status or prior achievement—predict which students with disabilities are most at risk for dropping out of high school, according to a new report from the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research and the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. The report found that absences, course failures, course credits and GPA all can be used to accurately predict whether ninth-graders with disabilities will graduate from high school. Identifying these early warning indicators is especially crucial for students with disabilities, who drop out of high school at alarming rates. (December 2009)
Mental Health Fact Sheet Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Dropping Out: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet
This fact sheet provides a snapshot of the current issues surrounding dropout factors among students who are identified with emotional disturbance, and offers mental health resources that may assist this population with remaining in high school. (July 2009)
Response to Intervention brief, August 2007 Meeting the Needs of Significantly Struggling Learners in High School: A Look at Approaches to Tiered Intervention
This report, authored by Helen Duffy of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research, provides an in-depth look at the implementation and structural issues, as well as the needed support required to successfully institute Response to Intervention (RTI) at the secondary school level. It defines the RTI models, explores benefits and challenges faced at the high school level, shares a snapshot of implementation at the high school level, and outlines the necessary resources needed to support this work. (August 2007)
RTI Colorado brief A Systemic Approach to Implementing Response to Intervention in Three Colorado High Schools
Implementing response to intervention (RTI) in high schools requires educators to work across traditional boundaries. This brief presents a portrait of RTI implementation in three Colorado high schools as well as the state and district practices that support implementation at the school level. (March 2012)
Back to top

Calls to Action - Overarching Strategies for High School Reform

CCR Organizer College and Career Development Organizer
This college and career development organizer was created to synthesize and organize an increasingly complicated and crowded field of college and career readiness initiatives. The organizer, composed of three strands, can be used to map the efforts of SEAs and LEAs as well as the many organizations devoted to researching and providing support for college and career readiness. The organizer can also be used as a set of building blocks to help SEA, LEAs, schools, and other organizations develop college and career readiness strategies and initiatives to address student needs. Stakeholders can use the components of the organizer to ensure that they are designing comprehensive college and career readiness definitions and strategies that address all aspects of the field that are essential to their context. (April 2012)

Learn more about our College and Career Readiness work and access more resources.
A Self-Assessment Tool: A Coherent Approach to High School Improvement A Self-Assessment Tool: A Coherent Approach to High School Improvement
This online self-assessment tool is a starting point for identifying high school improvement priorities and enables users in schools and districts to a) identify the strengths and weaknesses of their current high school reform efforts, and b) align and build on these current and planned reform initiatives to develop a comprehensive high school improvement plan that will result in rigorous and high-quality teaching and learning for all students. Based on the National High School Center’s Eight Elements of High School Improvement, users can respond to a variety of questions that focus on the eight elements and the different indicators of effectiveness, and generate reports based on their responses. (updated March 2012)
Eight Elements of High School Improvement: A Mapping Framework Eight Elements of High School Improvement: A Mapping Framework
The Eight Elements of High School Improvement framework provides a lens for mapping school, district, and state high school improvement efforts. This framework, updated from the original July 2008 version, incorporates new language and ideas from the U.S. Department of Education’s current education reform priorities. (January 2011)
Tiered Interventions in High Schools: Using Preliminary Lessons Learned to Guide Ongoing Discussion Tiered Interventions in High Schools: Using Preliminary “Lessons Learned” to Guide Ongoing Discussion
This document – representing the initial work of the High School Tiered Interventions Initiative (HSTII), a collaborative project of the National High School Center, the National Center on Response to Intervention, and the Center on Instruction – summarizes what HSTII has learned thus far about effective RTI implementation in high schools. It provides a brief description of the RTI framework and the essential components of RTI, illustrates how the essential components of RTI were implemented at eight visited schools, and highlights contextual factors unique to high schools and examines how these factors can affect school-level implementation of tiered interventions. (May 2010)
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Opportunities for High School Improvement Summary Table The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Opportunities for High School Improvement Summary Table
This summary table highlights suggestions made by the Department of Education on ways in which the funds appropriated under ARRA may be spent. Additionally, it provides best practices and resources related to these suggestions that will be helpful to stakeholders at the state, district and school levels who are undertaking high school improvement initiatives. (June 2009)
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Opportunities for High School Improvement The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Opportunities for High School Improvement
This document provides more detailed information about ARRA such as deadlines and descriptions related to the new funding opportunities. (June 2009)
Report on Key Practices and Policies of Consistently Higher Performing High Schools Report on Key Practices and Policies of Consistently Higher Performing High Schools
This National High School Center report focuses on successful high schools, highlighting the ways in which many superintendents, principals, and teachers are setting and meeting high expectations for all students. Developed specifically for state leaders, it provides them with suggestions on how they may support initiatives that are linked with accelerated learning. (October 2006)
NCLB and High Schools NCLB and High Schools
This policy brief outlines how NCLB relates to high schools. (August 2006)
Back to top

Dropout Prevention

Decision Table for Selecting a Dropout Prevention Program
The National High School Center has created the Decision Table for Selecting a Dropout Prevention Program to help principals and school leadership teams select dropout prevention programs. The Decision Table is designed to facilitate a systematic process, allowing users to evaluate, rate, and compare different products and projects by multiple criteria. This tool borrows from a concept that is widely used in the business world – the weighted decision matrix – and has not yet been tested in the education community. The scoring rubric and range are suggested frameworks only, and schools are encouraged to develop their own rubrics and scales to meet local needs. (March 2013)
ELL report cover What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools: A Focus on English Language Learners
A report from the National High School Center and the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) found that ninth grade course performance is more predictive of high school graduation for English Language Learners (ELLs) in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) than other ELL-specific indicators, including English language proficiency level and whether students experienced interruptions in their education. The study also found that ELL students who were newcomers to CPS after age 12 were less likely to graduate than other students with the same grades and attendance. The most important factor associated with these lower graduation rates was the quality of schools these students attended, suggesting that ELLs who arrive in CPS after elementary school may struggle to navigate CPS’s system of high school choice. (May 2012)
Early Warning Systems National High School Center Early Warning Systems
The National High School Center has developed two free, Microsoft Excel-based resources, the Early Warning System (EWS) Middle Grades Tool and the Early Warning System High School Tool, that rely on readily available student-level data (attendance, course failures, grade point average, credit accumulation, and behavior) to identify middle grade and high school students who show early warning signs that they are at risk for dropping out of high school. The tools are accompanied by a Technical Manual and an Early Warning System Implementation Guide. (November 2011)
What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools: A Focus on Students with Disabilities What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools: A Focus on Students with Disabilities
Freshman year course performance—more than background characteristics such as race, gender, socioeconomic status or prior achievement—predict which students with disabilities are most at risk for dropping out of high school, according to a new report from the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research and the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. The report found that absences, course failures, course credits and GPA all can be used to accurately predict whether ninth-graders with disabilities will graduate from high school. Identifying these early warning indicators is especially crucial for students with disabilities, who drop out of high school at alarming rates. (December 2009)
Approaches to Dropout Prevention: Heeding Early Warning Signs With Appropriate Interventions Approaches to Dropout Prevention: Heeding Early Warning Signs With Appropriate Interventions
This report outlines steps that schools can take to identify at-risk students and provide the necessary support systems and relevant interventions to assist students in obtaining a high school diploma. Further, the report discusses the use of early warning data systems to target interventions for groups and individual students, offers a variety of best practice approaches undertaken by higher-performing high schools, and presents effective programs that are currently being implemented to stem the dropout problem. (October 2007)
High School Dropout: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet High School Dropout: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet
This fact sheet highlights the problem of dropout prevention facing America’s high schools today. It provides information on the students most likely to drop out, and examines the impact of dropouts on crime, the economy, personal incomes, and employment. (September 2007)
State Approaches to More Reliable and Uniform Dropout and Graduation Data brief, August 2007 State Approaches to More Reliable and Uniform Dropout and Graduation Data
This issue brief outlines the immediate need for more accurate dropout and graduation data, while providing a snapshot of work currently underway.  By drawing on two prominent methods for calculating graduation rates: the National Governors Association’s endorsed longitudinal approach and the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR), this brief outlines how data are needed to track dropout trends and patterns, as well as how to direct resources and more effective strategies to ensure more students receive a high school diploma.  This brief concludes by offering take-aways for states. (August 2007)
Dropout Prevention for Students with Disabilities: A Critical Issue for State Education Agencies Dropout Prevention for Students With Disabilities: A Critical Issue for State Education Agencies  
This issue brief provides guidance to states as they respond to requirements presented in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) in the area of dropout prevention for students with disabilities. It also highlights the role of State Performance Plans as starting points for states to develop data collection and monitoring procedures, and supplies states with considerations and recommendations for providing a consistent method of tracking dropout data. (May 2007)
Snapshot: New Hampshire's Multi-Tiered Approach to Dropout Prevention New Hampshire's Multi-Tiered Approach to Dropout Prevention  
Many states and districts across the country struggle with designing and implementing coherent dropout prevention initiatives that promote academic advancement, especially for special needs students, who drop out at much higher rates than the general student population. New Hampshire has been recognized for its innovative use of data collection and analysis as the key to unlocking the dropout problem. (March 2007)
Back to top

Equity in High School Learning

ELL report cover What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools: A Focus on English Language Learners
A report from the National High School Center and the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) found that ninth grade course performance is more predictive of high school graduation for English Language Learners (ELLs) in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) than other ELL-specific indicators, including English language proficiency level and whether students experienced interruptions in their education. The study also found that ELL students who were newcomers to CPS after age 12 were less likely to graduate than other students with the same grades and attendance. The most important factor associated with these lower graduation rates was the quality of schools these students attended, suggesting that ELLs who arrive in CPS after elementary school may struggle to navigate CPS’s system of high school choice. (May 2012)
Educating English Language Learners at the High School Level: A Coherent Approach to District- and School-Level Support Educating English Language Learners at the High School Level: A Coherent Approach to District- and School-Level Support
This practitioner issue brief outlines successful strategies and recommendations for state-level policymakers, administrators, schools, and districts that are based on a 5-year evaluation study on the learning environment for ELLs in the state of California. This brief offers four critical building blocks that should be in place to effectively educate ELLs: implementing a well-defined, rigorously structured plan of instruction; ensuring that teachers are skilled in addressing the needs of ELLs; systematically using data to assess teaching and learning; and regularly adjusting instructional planning on the basis of student performance. (April 2009)
High School Course-Taking Patterns for English Language Learners: A Case Study from California High School Course-Taking Patterns for English Language Learners: A Case Study from California
This research brief examines the course-taking patterns of ELLs by using the transcript data from 54 high schools in California. Alarming findings from the brief state that approximately 8% of ELLs in the study sample who finished high school had taken the necessary set of required courses to be minimally eligible to attend the California State University system. (April 2009)
Selected States’ Responses to Supporting High School English Language Learners Selected States’ Responses to Supporting High School English Language Learners
This policy brief provides state-level examples of efforts to improve the assessment and reporting of data. This brief also showcases effective partnerships between state departments and the Regional Comprehensive Centers in strengthening educational outcomes for ELLs on the secondary school level. (April 2009)
Back to top

Graduation

State Approaches to More Reliable and Uniform Dropout and Graduation Data brief, August 2007 State Approaches to More Reliable and Uniform Dropout and Graduation Data
This issue brief outlines the immediate need for more accurate dropout and graduation data, while providing a snapshot of work currently underway.  By drawing on two prominent methods for calculating graduation rates: the National Governors Association’s endorsed longitudinal approach and the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR), this brief outlines how data are needed to track dropout trends and patterns, as well as how to direct resources and more effective strategies to ensure more students receive a high school diploma.  This brief concludes by offering take-aways for states. (August 2007)
Emerging Evidence on Improving High School Student Achievement and Graduation Rates: The Effects of Four Popular Improvement Programs Emerging Evidence on Improving High School Student Achievement and Graduation Rates: The Effects of Four Popular Improvement Programs
The National High School Center released methods for improving low-performing high schools based on some of the most rigorous research currently available in the school reform arena. This research brief identifies lessons learned as well as key practices used to strengthen high schools and is based on evaluations of four widely used high school improvement programs - Career Academies, First Things First, Project GRAD, and Talent Development. (November 2006)
Back to top

High School Fact Sheets

CCR Fact Sheet College and Career Readiness: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet
This fact sheet offers findings and statistics on the current status of high school graduates' readiness for life after high school. It highlights some of the challenges and opportunities facing high school students after graduation as well as some of the consequences and implications for America’s underprepared graduates. (October 2012)
first year of high school Oct12 Quick Stats Fact Sheet: The First Year of High School
This fact sheet provides statistics related to the transition into high school, highlighting U.S. high school enrollment rates, predictors of high school dropout, and ninth grade transition strategies. (October 2012)

Quick Stats Fact Sheet: High Schools in the United States

Quick Stats Fact Sheet: High Schools in the United States
This fact sheet provides demographic and achievement statistics for high schools in the United States. It includes information about the number of high schools and high school students in the United States, as well as facts on students with disabilities, English language learners, school funding, transition from high school to college, and high school graduation rates. (December 2012)
Mental Health Fact Sheet Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Dropping Out: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet
This fact sheet provides a snapshot of the current issues surrounding dropout factors among students who are identified with emotional disturbance, and offers mental health resources that may assist this population with remaining in high school. (July 2009)
Quick Stats Fact Sheet: High School Literacy Quick Stats Fact Sheet: High School Literacy
This fact sheet serves as an easy-to-read overview of the current state of high school literacy instruction and achievement as well as the importance of obtaining a high level of literacy prior to leaving high school. (January 2009)
Transitioning Out of High School: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet Transitioning Out of High School: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet
This fact sheet provides statistics describing the current status of high school graduates' readiness for life after high school. It highlights some of the challenges and opportunities facing high school students after graduation as well as some of the consequences and implications for America’s underprepared graduates. (October 2007)
High School Dropout: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet High School Dropout: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet
This fact sheet highlights the problem of dropout prevention facing America’s high schools today. It provides information on the students most likely to drop out, and examines the impact of dropouts on crime, the economy, personal incomes, and employment. (September 2007)
Quick Stats Fact Sheet: The First Year of High School Quick Stats Fact Sheet: The First Year of High School  
This fact sheet highlights statistics related to the transition into high school for U.S. students. (March 2007)
Quick Stats Fact Sheet: High School Students by Region and State Quick Stats Fact Sheet: High School Students by Region and State
This fact sheet outlines the number of high school students per Regional Comprehensive Center and State. (July 2006)
Back to top

Innovation and Improvement

State-Level High School Improvement Systems Checklist State-Level High School Improvement Systems Checklist
This checklist is designed to help states at various stages develop their system of support to reach struggling high schools. The checklist can be used to assess where your state is in terms of the elements of using existing support and guidance mechanisms, and reconfiguring and/or creating new structures to leverage system change for high school improvement. The elements listed in the checklist may be helpful in establishing or refining your state’s education planning and implementation process. (June 2007)
States Progress Toward High School Restructuring States' Progress Toward High School Restructuring
As many Title I high schools approach their fifth year of failing to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP), many states and districts are struggling to navigate the new waters of school restructuring as required in such cases as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. The following brief outlines the provisions of the law related to restructuring and includes strategies that states and districts are undertaking to meet their obligations under the law, particularly at the high school level. (January 2007)
Back to top

Literacy

High School Literacy Fact Sheet Quick Stats Fact Sheet: High School Literacy
This fact sheet serves as an easy-to-read overview of the current state of high school literacy instruction and achievement as well as the importance of obtaining a high level of literacy prior to leaving high school. (January 2009)
Improving Literacy  Outcomes for English Language Learners in High School: Considerations for States and Districts in Developing a Coherent Policy Framework Improving Literacy Outcomes for English Language Learners in High School: Considerations for States and Districts in Developing a Coherent Policy Framework
This research brief outlines existing barriers regarding teacher expectations, tracking, and placement of English language learners and offers key policies and useful strategies in building capacity and developing learning environments conducive for all students in obtaining academic success. (November 2006)
Sustaining Focus on Secondary School Reading: Lessons and Recommendations from the Alabama Reading Initiative Sustaining Focus on Secondary School Reading: Lessons and Recommendations from the Alabama Reading Initiative
The Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) addresses literacy and includes a focus on high school students. This research brief summarizes student and teacher outcomes, lessons learned, and other findings from a recent evaluation of the Alabama Reading Initiative at the secondary school level. (September 2006)
Back to top

Transition Into High School

first year of high school Oct12 Quick Stats Fact Sheet: The First Year of High School
This fact sheet provides statistics related to the transition into high school, highlighting U.S. high school enrollment rates, predictors of high school dropout, and ninth grade transition strategies. (October 2012)
Easing the Transition to High School: Research and Best Practices Designed to Support High School Learning Easing the Transition to High School: Research and Best Practices Designed to Support High School Learning 
This report is a rolled up version of four National High School Center products that had been previously released as individual pieces related to one of the NHSC focus themes: transitions into high school. Included in this publication are a fact sheet, policy brief, issue brief, and snapshot. (July 2007)
State and District-Level Support for Successful Transitions into High School State and District-Level Support for Successful Transitions into High School  
This policy brief examines how some states and districts are currently easing the transition into high school for students. (May 2007)
Toward Ensuring a Smooth Transition Into High School Toward Ensuring a Smooth Transition Into High School  
This best practices piece is based on key research into high school transition strategies. (May 2007)
Managing the Transition to Ninth Grade in a Comprehensive Urban High School Managing the Transition to Ninth Grade in a Comprehensive Urban High School
This snapshot illustrates how one school is managing to make a positive difference for ninth graders. (May 2007)
Quick Stats Fact Sheet: The First Year of High School Quick Stats Fact Sheet: The First Year of High School  
This fact sheet highlights statistics related to the transition into high school for U.S. students. (March 2007)
Back to top

Transition Out of High School

CCR Fact Sheet College and Career Readiness: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet
This fact sheet offers findings and statistics on the current status of high school graduates' readiness for life after high school. It highlights some of the challenges and opportunities facing high school students after graduation as well as some of the consequences and implications for America’s underprepared graduates. (October 2012)
CCR Organizer College and Career Development Organizer
This college and career development organizer was created to synthesize and organize an increasingly complicated and crowded field of college and career readiness initiatives. The organizer, composed of three strands, can be used to map the efforts of SEAs and LEAs as well as the many organizations devoted to researching and providing support for college and career readiness. The organizer can also be used as a set of building blocks to help SEA, LEAs, schools, and other organizations develop college and career readiness strategies and initiatives to address student needs. Stakeholders can use the components of the organizer to ensure that they are designing comprehensive college and career readiness definitions and strategies that address all aspects of the field that are essential to their context. (April 2012)

Learn more about our College and Career Readiness work and access more resources.
Using the Right Data to Determine if High School Interventions Are Working to Prepare Students for College and Careers Using the Right Data to Determine if High School Interventions Are Working to Prepare Students for College and Careers
This report is designed to guide educators in collecting and analyzing valuable student achievement data that can help them determine if and how high school interventions for underprepared students are working to effectively prepare them for college and careers. The report was authored by Chrys Dougherty, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Educational Achievement (NCEA), which is a partner of the National High School Center. (January 2010)
Preparing High School Students for Successful Transitions to Postsecondary Education and Employment Preparing High School Students for Successful Transitions to Postsecondary Education and Employment
This issue brief highlights lessons from selected policies and programs designed to improve students’ preparation for postsecondary pathways. The publication summarizes core characteristics of popular interventions in a user-friendly chart, poses overarching implementation questions and challenges, and includes considerations for students with disabilities. (August 2008)
Evaluating the Impact of Interventions That Promote Successful Transitions from High School Evaluating the Impact of Interventions that Promote Successful Transitions from High School
This research brief examines the challenges and opportunities presented in evaluating whether an intervention achieves defined goals of increasing students' educational attainment, employment, and earnings after high school. (August 2008)
Striking the Balance - Career Academies Striking the Balance: Career Academies Combine Academic Rigor and Workplace Relevance
This snapshot takes a closer look at the implementation of the Career Academy model, an innovative approach to infuse life relevancy and critical thinking skills into the academic curriculum, in a high school in Oakland, California. Painting a picture of one high school's experience, the resource documents the mechanics of the program, how it prepares students for college, and the challenges encountered along the way. (August 2008)
Transitioning Out of High School: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet Transitioning Out of High School: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet
This fact sheet provides statistics describing the current status of high school graduates' readiness for life after high school. It highlights some of the challenges and opportunities facing high school students after graduation as well as some of the consequences and implications for America’s underprepared graduates. (October 2007)
Findings from the Early College High School Initiative: A Look at Best Practices and Lessons Learned Regarding a Dual Enrollment Program Findings from the Early College High School Initiative: A Look at Best Practices and Lessons Learned Regarding a Dual Enrollment Program  
This research brief on the Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI), a dual enrollment program developed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examines lessons learned and best practices gleaned from an evaluation specific to the ECHSI, “Early College High School Initiative 2003-2005 Evaluation Report.” These findings help inform those interested in developing or implementing dual enrollment programs as a strategy to accelerate learning and help bridge transitions after graduation. (March 2007)
Back to top

Other National High School Center Publications

Brochure National High School Center Brochure
This brochure provides an informative and concise overview of the National High School Center.
Back to top