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Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2008

Chapman, C., Laird, J., and KewalRamani, A. (2010). Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2008 (NCES 2011-012). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved [date] from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.

This report discusses the various rates used to study how students complete or fail to complete high school and provides data about trends in dropout and completion rates from 1972 to 2008, along with more recent estimates of on-time graduation from public high schools. Among the findings in the report was that in October 2008, roughly 3 million civilian noninstitutionalized 16- through 24-year-olds were not enrolled in high school and had not earned a high school diploma or alternative credential. These dropouts represented 8% of the 38 million non-institutionalized individuals in this age group in the U.S.

The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Final Report: The Impact of Supplemental Literacy Courses for Struggling Ninth Graders

Somers, M.A., Corrin, W., Sepanik, S., Salinger T., Levin, J., and Zmach, C. (2010). The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Final Report: The Impact of Supplemental Literacy Courses for Struggling Ninth-Grade Readers Executive Summary (NCEE 2010-4022). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

The Enhanced Reading Opportunities (ERO) demonstration evaluated two supplemental literacy programs — Reading Apprenticeship Academic Literacy (RAAL) and Xtreme Reading (XR) — targeted to ninth grade students whose reading skills were at least two years below grade level. Over two years, about 6,000 eligible students in 34 high schools from 10 districts were randomly assigned to enroll in the year-long ERO class or remain in a regularly scheduled elective class (non-ERO group). At the end of 9th grade, both groups were assessed using a standardized, nationally normed reading test, and participated in surveys about their reading activities and behaviors. School records were used to examine the effect of the literacy programs on academic performance during the program year (9th grade) and a year afterwards.

The study found:

  • Taken together, the ERO supplemental literacy programs improved students' reading comprehension skills during the 9th grade, corresponding to an improvement from the 23rd to the 25th percentile. However, 77% of students assigned to the ERO class were still reading 2 or more years behind grade level at the end of the 9th grade.
  • During the 9th grade, the ERO program also had a positive impact on students' academic performance in core subject areas, including their grades and credit accumulation. Students in the ERO group scored higher on their states' English/Language Arts and mathematics assessment than did those in the non-ERO group.
  • The ERO program effects did not continue beyond the program year. While there were statistically significant and positive impacts on students' GPA, credit accumulation and state test scores in 9th grade, the impacts were not significant the following school year. When analyzed separately, the RAAL program significantly improved students' reading comprehension during the 9th grade year while the XR program did not have a statistically significant impact on reading comprehension. Impacts on other outcomes were similar for the two programs.

Five States' Efforts to Improve Adolescent Literacy

Bates, L., Breslow, N., and Hupert, N. (2009). Five states’ efforts to improve adolescent literacy (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2009–No. 067). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands. Retrieved from http://ies. ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.

This report describes efforts by five states — Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Rhode Island — to improve adolescent literacy. Highlighting common challenges and lessons, the report examines how each state has engaged key stakeholders, set rigorous goals and standards, aligned resources to support adolescent literacy goals, built educator capacity, and used data to measure progress.

Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2006

Laird, J., Cataldi, E.F., KewalRamani, A., and Chapman, C. (2008). Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2006 (NCES 2008- 053). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

Relative to their peers who completed high school, dropouts on average earn less income, and are more likely to be unemployed, in prison, or in poor health.

This report from the National Center for Education Statistics gives data about trends in dropout and completion rates since 1972 and examines the characteristics of both high school dropouts and high school completers.

Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report

Gamse, B.C., Bloom, H.S., Kemple, J.J., Jacob, R.T., (2008). Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report (NCEE 2008-4016). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

This report sheds some light on the impact of the federal Reading First program. The evaluation, completed by the National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE), suggests that as a result of Reading First, more class time is spent on the five components of reading, but, on average across the 18 study sites, Reading First did not have statistically significant impacts on student reading comprehension test scores in grades 1-3.

What Content-Area Teachers Should Know About Adolescent Literacy

The National Institute for Literacy. (2007). What Content-Area Teachers Should Know About Adolescent Literacy. Washington, DC: The National Institute for Literacy, The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Vocational and Adult Education.

The goal of this report is so help address middle and high school educators' need for basic information on how to build adolescents' reading and writing skills. The report is divided into two main sections: the first describes the components of reading proficiency, in order to help teachers better understand why poor readers struggle; the second section introduces four additional areas critical to the attainment of reading proficiency (assessment, writing, motivation, and the needs of diverse learners).


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