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Strategies to Improve High Schools

Learning Point Associates, North Central Regional Education Laboratory
Research suggests six reform strategies that may help high schools better prepare students for college-level work and the workforce: planning at the state and district levels; rigorous curricula; real-world relevant curricula; improving student relationships and personalization; improving transitions to 9th grade, college, and work; and data-driven decision-making. This article lists key actions and offers practical examples and additional resources.


Learning Point Associates created the “Quick Key” action guide series to help schools comply with No Child Left Behind legislation. Guide #9, addresses the NCLB requirement that high schools improve students’ achievement and graduation rates. While few studies of high school interventions have been conducted, existing research suggests the following strategies may be effective:

  • planning at the state and district levels to create multiple pathways for students to master a common set of high standards;
  • increasing the rigor of the curriculum;
  • increasing the relevance of the curriculum;
  • improving student relationships with teachers and other students, and personalizing the learning experience for each student;
  • improving students’ transitions to 9th grade, college, and work; and
  • using data to make decisions.

The guide provides a brief discussion of each strategy, as well as links to practical examples and further resources. It also includes a list of 14 national organizations focusing on high school.

Learning Point Associates. (2005). Implementing the No Child Left Behind Act: Strategies to Improve High Schools. NCREL Quick Key Action Guide, No. 9. Retrieved September 24, 2007, from in a new window).