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ECS High School Policy Center (HSPC)

The Progress of Education Reform: Credit Recovery and Proficiency-Based Credit PDF -

This issue of The Progress of Education Reform will address the following questions:

  • What is credit recovery? What is proficiency-based credit?
  • How is credit recovery different from traditional remediation?
  • Why does providing for these options matter for high school completion?
  • How widespread are these options across the states? And what do state policies look like?
  • What are the challenges in implementing credit recovery and proficiency-based credit
  • What does the research say on the effectiveness of credit recovery and proficiency-based
  • What are the essential policy components?

(Jennifer Dounay Zinth, Education Commission of the States, June 2011)


Dispelling the Myths About the Negative Effects of Raising High School Graduation Requirements MS Word PDF - In the last several years, a number of states have raised high school graduation requirements, particularly in mathematics and science. The negative impacts of raising high school graduation requirements are often raised by well-intentioned individuals as counterarguments to discussions in favor of raising students’ course requirements; however these counterarguments are often based on misperceptions, or "myths." This policy brief presents the potential consequences commonly raised by critics of increased high school graduation requirements. Each "myth" is followed by relevant research and/or experience, as well as guiding principles for best policy in establishing more challenging curricular expectations for all students. (Jennifer Dounay, Education Commission of the States, August 2008)...

What Policymakers Need to Know About the Cost of Implementing Lab-Based Science Course Requirements MS Word PDF - An increasing number of states have required that some – or all – Carnegie units in science for high school graduation be fulfilled by lab sciences. This ECS Policy Brief examines the research that supports implementing lab science requirements for high school graduation; the number of states requiring science lab credits for high school graduation; the costs associated with fitting schools with science labs – in terms of capital, equipment, operations, maintenance and other needs; and the alternatives to traditional labs and their respective benefits and disadvantages in terms of cost, space, teaching staff needs and student learning. (Mike Griffith, Education Commission of the States, June 2007)...

Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities: Ensuring Meaningful Diplomas for All Students - Students with disabilities should get college- and career-ready diplomas. Only 10-15% have disabilities that require different achievement standards. This brief recommends: setting high college and career expectations for students with disabilities, limiting the number of diploma options, identifying multiple rigorous paths to a diploma, identifying diploma options for the few students with significant cognitive disabilities, researching the impact of state graduation requirements on student outcomes. (National Center on Educational Outcomes and Achieve, November 2013)...

Passing Through Science: The Effects of Raising Graduation Requirements in Science on Course-Taking and Academic Achievement in Chicago - Over the past few years, there have been many calls for the United States to improve its competitiveness globally by enhancing students' knowledge and skills in technology, mathematics and—especially—science. However, the current research does not tell us whether requiring all students to take more, higher-level science classes will necessarily lead to improvements in student outcomes. The new policy in the Chicago Public Schools substantially changed the science courses students took but most students earned low grades in these classes, suggesting they were minimally engaged and learned little. (Nicolas Montgomery, Elaine Allensworth, Macarena Correa,Consortium on Chicago School Research, March 2010)...

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