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Action Required: Addressing the Nation’s Lowest-Performing High Schools

May 04, 2009

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In an age where a postsecondary education, let alone a high school diploma, is increasingly necessary to succeed in the global economy, the growing recognition of a graduation crisis that disproportionately affects poor and minority students has helped galvanize the demand to improve the lowest-performing high schools. Education leaders have a responsibility to provide better options to the students served by such high schools. Addressing the nation’s lowest-performing high schools with effective options for all students—either by transforming them, closing them, or replacing them with multiple other schools—will require a systemic strategy that involves stakeholders and policymakers at all levels, establishes the necessary conditions for success, and  promotes organizational practices and instructional strategies within a school that lead to improved  teaching, learning, and outcomes. This brief examines the current federal approach to addressing the lowest-performing high schools; explores lessons learned from emerging strategies at the state and local level; and provides related recommendations for federal policy.

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