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The High School Initiative | NCLB and High Schools
Resources for High Schools
Adolescent Literacy | Math and Science Excellence
Setting Expectations and Aligning Systems | Noteworthy Practices
High School Reform Models | Accountability and Data
High School Teaching and Leadership | Multimedia
Related Links | Site Map

What's New
NCES Releases Two New Reports Funded by OVAE
Winners Don’t Quit: Stay In The Game

This website has been created as a one-stop clearinghouse for information on high schools as part of the Department's Preparing America's Future - High School Initiative. Use the sites below to explore a wide range of topics related to improving achievement for all of America's high school students.

Find out more about President George W. Bush's new education proposals to strengthen high schools.

Read remarks from First Lady Laura Bush regarding community colleges in Cleveland, Ohio.

The High School Initiative

For today's youths, life after high school holds both opportunities and challenges. The opportunity arises from the large number of well-paying, high-skilled jobs available in the global economy. The challenge is to acquire the education and skills necessary to get and keep those jobs. Students must leave high school with a solid grounding in the academic, social and workplace skills needed for the next step, whether it be postsecondary education, an apprenticeship, or a career.

The Preparing America's Future High School Initiative is designed to support educators, policymakers, and leaders who are committed to making sure that all high school graduates have that academic grounding and those necessary skills.

Download the official Preparing America's Future: The High School Initiative brochure [downloadable files]PDF (558K) WORD (41K)

The three goals of Preparing America's Future are:

  • Equip state and local education leaders with current knowledge about high schools through special forums, print and electronic materials, and targeted technical assistance;
  • Develop the expertise and structures within the Department of Education to provide coordinated support and outreach to state and local education systems to help improve high school and youth outcomes; and
  • Facilitate a national dialogue to raise awareness about the need for significant reform in American high schools.

The Department launched the High School Initiative at the National High School Summit in October 2003 in Washington, D.C. The summit brought education and policy leaders together to discuss innovative, effective methods for transforming high schools into top-quality learning institutions. Since that time, the Department held eight regional summits across the country to help state and territory teams create short- and long-term plans for strengthening outcomes for youth, improving high schools and meeting the vision of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Department also held a second national summit, in December 2004.

Find out more about:

To support the High School Initiative, OVAE created a series of issue papers profiling major topics of interest in high school reform.
Issue Papers

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NCLB and High Schools

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) launched the most sweeping changes in federal education policy since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was enacted in 1965. NCLB seeks to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority students and their peers and to change the culture of America's schools so that all students receive the support and high-quality instruction they need to meet higher expectations.

Though public attention often focuses on the law's implications for elementary and middle schools, NCLB also provides an important framework and needed resources for improving all high schools and transforming those high schools with acute needs.

  • Learn more about NCLB and High Schools, see the latest facts and figures and more.
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Resources for High Schools

There are many programs and initiatives currently being administered by the U.S. Department of Education to support high schools.

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Adolescent Literacy

The state of literacy among high-school aged youth is alarming, and has become an important priority with the passing of NCLB. NCLB emphasizes raising overall proficiency levels and also closing persistent achievement gaps among students of different races, ethnicities, and family incomes, as well as gaps between students with disabilities and their peers. Under NCLB, every high school in every state, regardless of whether it receives federal funds, must establish yearly progress measures and publicly report its progress in meeting them.

  • Learn more and see the latest initiatives supporting adolescent literacy.
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Math and Science Excellence

In today's fast-paced world, amid the new challenges of sprinting technological advances, global economic competition, and homeland security concerns, America's students need high-quality instruction in math and science in order to keep ahead. With passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the US Department of Education affirmed its commitment to ensuring that high schools use research-based methods to teach math and science skills, and measure student progress.

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Setting Expectations and Aligning Systems

States and districts need to set high standards for high schools that are clearly aligned with both elementary and postsecondary requirements. Efforts to align these systems should guide districts and states in developing curriculum and assessments to help students ease the transition from elementary school to high school, and from high school to postsecondary education. College transition and dual enrollment programs can play an important role in easing secondary-postsecondary transition.

  • Learn more about current research and initiatives supporting setting expectations and aligning systems.
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Noteworthy Practices

NCLB places a high priority on educational practices that are rooted in research-based methods, and until further research can be conducted, it is largely unclear which practices can be authoritatively labeled "effective." However, schools nationwide are exercising innovative and noteworthy practices in responding to the challenge set forth under NCLB, and addressing the needs of striving students.

  • Learn more about current noteworthy practices to help striving students.
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High School Reform Models

A variety of high school improvement models are being implemented in varying degrees nationwide. These reform models share a dedication to improving and personalizing high school instruction, supporting a rigorous high school program of study and increasing student achievement.

  • Learn more about high school reform models that support student achievement.
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Accountability and Data

NCLB establishes strict assessment guidelines for states to better ensure that teachers, parents, schools, districts and states are held accountable for the achievement of all students. At every level of education administration, a wealth of data regarding student performance is now available. States and districts should implement data collection strategies to inform decision-making and coordinate longitudinal data for individual students.

  • Learn more about assessment, accountability and data.
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High School Teaching and Leadership

The key to quality high school education and reform is quality teaching and leadership. Recognizing this, NCLB has set ambitious standards for teacher quality, and the Department of Education has offered renewed support to help schools and teachers reach the new standards. The role of leaders in high schools, whether they are among the teachers, principals or other administrators, is increasingly important as schools and districts focus on reform.

  • Learn more about high school teaching and leadership.
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Access streaming video resources from the US Department of Education for high schools.

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Related Links

The related links page includes links to high school education and literacy organizations/centers, useful resources, and journals and periodicals related to secondary education.

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Site Map

The site map helps you find what you're looking for faster.

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Contact Us

Please email HighSchools@ed.gov with your questions or comments regarding the Department's High School Initiative

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Last Modified: 10/16/2007