Michigan Earn and Learn: An Outcome & Implementation Evaluation of a Transitional Job and Training Program

Community and Economic Development, Education and Literacy, Employment and Labor

Michigan Earn and Learn: An Outcome & Implementation Evaluation of a Transitional Job and Training Program

While the Great Recession introduced unemployment and underemployment to the masses, its significant negative trends aggravated already declining rates of employment in Michigan, particularly among less-educated, young, male, and minority individuals, who were then also hit hardest by the recession. As the nation began to slowly recover after the recession, Michigan continued struggling to find an economic foothold.

The State of Michigan, along with private funders, responded with the Michigan Earn and Learn program, with the goal of creating opportunities for people facing barriers to employment to pursue education and occupational training that could help them get ahead.

This evaluation report of the Michigan Earn and Learn transitional jobs program was commissioned by The Joyce Foundation on behalf of the State of Michigan.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Michigan-Saginaw County-Saginaw, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Michigan-Genesee County-Flint, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Michigan-Wayne County-Detroit, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Michigan

Meeting the Challenge: Promising Practices for Reducing the Dropout Rate in Massachusetts Schools and Districts

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy, Employment and Labor

Meeting the Challenge: Promising Practices for Reducing the Dropout Rate in Massachusetts Schools and Districts

One in five Massachusetts students does not graduate from high school in four years. At a time when a high school diploma is essential to ensuring future success, such large numbers of students struggling to earn a diploma is cause for concern. Yet, there are Massachusetts schools and districts making progress; a review of district data over the past four years revealed that several districts and schools throughout the Commonwealth are steadily reducing their dropout rates. The Rennie Center's latest policy brief, Meeting the Challenge: Promising Practices for Reducing the Dropout Rate in Massachusetts Schools and Districts analyzes practices and policies within these schools and districts to help inform the work of educators and policymakers and to address the question: "In schools that are reducing their dropout rates, what is working?"

The Rennie Center's research is based on interviews with district leaders and principals from 11 high schools in 9 Massachusetts districts that have reduced their student dropout rates over the past four years. Through these interviews, several themes emerged. Nearly all of these districts and schools: 1) used data to identify students at-risk of dropping out (including early indicators of potential dropouts and high school attendance); 2) offered targeted interventions such as personalizing the learning environment and supporting the transition to ninth grade; 3) connected high school to college and careers; 4) provided alternatives to traditional high school; and 5) formed collaborations and partnerships to bring in additional resources for students at-risk of dropping out.

Considerations Based On Findings

The Importance of Leadership - All of the schools studied in this policy brief had leaders who initiated and sustained a focus on students at-risk of dropping out. These leaders placed a high value on struggling students and emphasized the needs of these students with their entire faculty so that adults in the school felt a sense of ownership for the outcomes of these students.

No Silver Bullets - Students at-risk of dropping out have varied needs and the schools studied in this brief provided a correspondingly diverse set of interventions and supports to address students' behavioral/emotional and academic needs.

Persistent Effort Over Time - It is important to note that for the schools that participated in this study, there have been no quick fixes. The success of these schools' efforts has been dependent on a sustained focus on the needs of these learners and a steadfast commitment of resources over time.

More Than Academics - Rather than focusing exclusively on providing academic supports for students at-risk of dropping out, the schools studied in this brief combined academic support with initiatives to foster students' increased engagement in school.

Follow-Up with Dropouts - Most of the schools did not follow up with students once they had dropped out - either to find out why they had dropped out, or to encourage them to return to some course of study that would lead to a diploma. This is an area that warrants future attention.

The policy brief was the subject of discussion at a public event on February 12, 2009. For more information about the dropout crisis in Massachusetts, visit: www.projectdropout.org.

Geographic Focus:

Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic

Education and Literacy

Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic

This fourth annual update on America's high school dropout crisis shows that for the first time the nation is on track to meet the goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020 -- if the pace of improvement from 2006 to 2010 is sustained over the next 10 years. The greatest gains have occurred for the students of color and low-income students most affected by the dropout crisis. Many schools, districts and states are making significant gains in boosting high school graduation rates and putting more students on a path to college and a successful career. This progress is often the result of having better data, an understanding of why and where students drop out, a heightened awareness of the consequences to individuals and the economy, a greater understanding of effective reforms and interventions, and real-world examples of progress and collaboration. These factors have contributed to a wider understanding that the dropout crisis is solvable.

While progress is encouraging, a deeper look at the data reveals that gains in graduation rates and declines in dropout factory high schools occurred unevenly across states and subgroups of students (e.g. economically disadvantaged, African American, Hispanic, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency). As a result, large "graduation gaps" remain in many states among students of different races, ethnicities, family incomes, disabilities and limited English proficiencies. To repeat the growth in graduation rates in the next ten years experienced in the second half of the last decade, and to ensure progress for all students, the nation must turn its attention to closing the graduation gap by accelerating progress for student subgroups most affected by the dropout crisis.

This report outlines the progress made and the challenges that remain. Part 1: The Data analyzes the latest graduation rates and "dropout factory" trends at the state and national levels. Part 2: Progress and Challenge provides an update on the nation's shared efforts to implement the Civic Marshall Plan to reach the goal of at least a 90 percent high school graduation rate for the Class of 2020 and all classes that follow. Part 3: Paths Forward offers recommendations on how to accelerate our work and achieve our goals, with all students prepared for college and career. The report also offers "snapshots" within schools, communities, and organizations from Orlando to Oakland that are making substantial gains in boosting high school graduation rates.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Meeting the Challenge: Fiscal Implications of Dropout Prevention in Massachusetts

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy

Meeting the Challenge: Fiscal Implications of Dropout Prevention in Massachusetts

In 2009, for the first time in a decade, Massachusetts' dropout rate fell below three percent. While this progress is promising, there remain nearly 8,300 students who did not earn their high school diplomas during the 2009-2010 school year. Given that these individuals face significantly lower earning potential, fewer prospects for employment, much higher rates of incarceration and health problems, and are much more likely to utilize public assistance than those who graduate, there is continued cause for concern and attention to the goal of ensuring that every student receives their high school diploma.

In the current environment of constrained resources, many districts are reluctant to launch new programs or improve existing services that provide additional supports for students at risk of dropping out. Declines in revenue combined with rising costs have constricted local education budgets, forcing superintendents and school business officers to make tough decisions about which programs to fund and which must be cut. It is within this context that the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy engaged in a study to not only explore promising dropout reduction approaches across Massachusetts, but to also examine the costs and benefits of promising practices for reducing the number of students dropping out of school.

Meeting the Challenge: Fiscal Implications of Dropout Prevention in Massachusetts, conducted with support from the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officers (MASBO), explores the approaches, costs and potential financial benefits of implementing dropout reduction strategies. It highlights a diverse group of five Massachusetts districts that have substantially reduced their dropout rates over the past three years and identifies the district-wide policies and school-based strategies that superintendents and principals indicate have contributed to reducing the number of students dropping out of school. The brief also presents two scenarios that illustrate how, for some districts, per pupil funding obtained from increased enrollment due to successful dropout prevention strategies can be allocated to serve at-risk students.

Considerations for School and District Leaders

  • Incorporate strategies that promote engagement and student success into every aspect of the school experience.
  • Support staff in taking on new roles and responsibilities.
  • Analyze data to determine what works and allocate resources accordingly.
  • Use the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Early Warning Indicator Index to budget for dropout prevention initiatives for incoming high school students.
  • Formalize strategies for reaching out to and re-engaging students who have dropped out.

Considerations for State Policymakers

  • Work to establish sustainable funding streams for districts' dropout prevention initiatives.
  • Continue to promote, provide and seek ways to expand data collection and analysis tools for schools and districts.
  • Strengthen the ability of districts to establish partnerships with community based social service agencies, local businesses and institutions of higher education.
  • Facilitate outreach to dropouts.
  • Expand alternative education options.

This policy brief was released at a public event on March 1st, 2011.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-Massachusetts

Collective Impact for Opportunity Youth

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

Collective Impact for Opportunity Youth

This report was designed to highlight the underlying challenges facing Opportunity Youth (i.e., youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market) and offers a framework to help communities come together to address these challenges.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Ohio Student Mobility Research: Statewide Overview

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy

Ohio Student Mobility Research: Statewide Overview

In 2011, Community Research Partners (CRP) and The Thomas B. Fordham Institute (Fordham) entered into a partnership to conduct research on student mobility in Ohio. Fordham, a national leader in advancing educational excellence through quality research, commentary, and advocacy, wanted to build on their recent research on student mobility in the Dayton area and examine student mobility throughout the state. CRP brought to the project its experience in undertaking research on student mobility in the Columbus City Schools (CCS) and in processing and analyzing student-level records from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).

In June 2011, Fordham provided CRP with a planning grant to develop a workable research plan. ODE provided CRP with student-records from the Education Management Information System (EMIS). Beginning with the 2008 -- 2009 school year, EMIS has included unique student identifiers that charter schools in Ohio. With assistance from ODE staff in understanding and using the EMIS data, CRP analyzed student records for Franklin County districts. The outcome of the planning phase was a design for a large-scale study of student mobility in Ohio, to be conducted by CRP. Work on the project began in February 2012.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Ohio

Connecting Youth Through Multiple Pathways

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

Connecting Youth Through Multiple Pathways

Presents findings from a field scan of efforts to help vulnerable youth graduate from high school, what is working, what should be done, and what opportunities exist for Casey's involvement. Explores risk factors and alternative programs. Lists resources.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

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