April 2013

April 2013


We are pleased to announce a series of forums focusing on strategies that support student transitions between secondary and postsecondary education. 

Capitol Hill Forum – College Match Matters, Friday, June 14, 2013, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2009 only 36 percent of youth in the United States ages 18-24 were enrolled in college. Of those that managed to navigate the system and gain access to higher education, only 53 percent attending four-year institutions were able to graduate within six years. While many factors contribute to the issue of postsecondary enrollment and graduation, a major challenge has been the matching of youth to appropriate programs. Oftentimes youth may be the first in their families to apply or enroll in college and are forced to navigate the process with little or no guidance. If students are to enter into and ultimately succeed in postsecondary education, greater support is required to match each individual student with an institution and course of study that meets his or her needs, both academically and financially.

Co-sponsored by MRDC, this forum will provide an overview of the research on the promising College Match Program in Chicago Public Schools, as well as a panel discussion on the implications for policy, specifically considering opportunities for sustainability and scaling up. Presenters include D. Crystal Byndloss, Senior Associate, MDRC; Michael McPherson, President, Spencer Foundation; Greg Darnieder, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Education on the College Access Initiative, US Department of Education; and Mariana Saucedo, College Match Advisor, DeVry Advantage Academy High School and Lincoln Park High School.

Capitol Hill Forum- The AVID College Readiness System: A Discussion of Comprehensive Strategies for Student Success, Friday, June 21, 2013 12-1:30 PM 

Numerous studies have indicated that while most students aspire to attend college, less than half are academically qualified for postsecondary success and the rates for minority populations are significantly higher than their white peers.  In order to address this knowledge and skill gap, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) has developed the AVID College Readiness System (ACRS) which aims to accelerate student learning using research based methods of effective instruction.

This forum will provide a close look at the AVID College Readiness System and its implication across K-12 and higher education institutions.  Through an examination of this system, the panel will offer some thoughts on the role of federal policy in supporting and improving transitions through K-12 and into postsecondary education for all students.  Presenters include:

Rob Gira, Executive Vice President, Quality, Research and Communication, AVID National Center; Dr. Peter Noonan, Superintendent, Fairfax County Schools; Dr. MIchael Grego, Superintendent, Pinellas County School Board; Derek Steele, AVID Program District Director, College Success Program, Fairfax County Public Schools; and Cindy Zavala, AVID Alumni, Junior, American University.


Please visit our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/amyouthpolicyforum for video clips of events, interviews and more

Policy Brief – How Career and Technical Education Can Help Students Be College and Career Ready: A Primer

If educators and policymakers are to make good on the national commitment to graduate more students from high school prepared to face postsecondary challenges, schools must continue to improve career technical education (CTE), ensuring that students have access to high-quality pathways to success. This brief issued by the College and Career Readiness and Success Center at the American Institutes for Research provides an overview of the evolution of CTE in the U.S., reviews what CTE looks like in practice, and highlights issues CTE faces in the field that must be overcome for it to become an impactful and wide-reaching strategy for preparing students for postsecondary success. It also discusses the importance of these programs for allowing students the opportunities to acquire the competencies required in today’s workplace, and to learn about different careers by experiencing work and workplaces.

Video Recording and Forum Brief – Moving to Mastery: A National Policy Forum on Competency-Based Education, March 1, 2013

This National Policy Forum on K-12 competency-based education, co-sponsored by CompetencyWorks and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, highlighted important research, policy trends, and issues for advancing competency-based education. The forum showcased experts from leading state and district efforts to transform K-12 student learning using competency-based education and discussed federal policy issues and recommendations for the United States.

Leading countries internationally have built education systems based on a competency-based education approach, not seat-time as we do in the United States. Now, innovative states and school districts around the country are beginning to challenge the time-based educational system that has been in place for decades by moving to a competency-based education approach of their own. Thirty-six states have policies providing flexibility for competency-based education.

Competency-based education requires rethinking the time-based system of accountability and assessment in favor of robust student-centered approaches.  It provides loads of data on students meeting competencies in real-time to improve accountability, new systems of assessments, and is centered on improving student learning outcomes. This approach allows for stronger personalization and student-centered learning, including ensuring all students succeed in building college and career readiness, consistent with recently adopted Common Core standards; taking advantage of the extraordinary technological advances in online learning; allowing students to learn at their own pace, any time and everywhere; and providing greater flexibility for students that might not otherwise graduate from high school.

Speakers included Susan Patrick, President and CEO, International Association of K-12 Online Learning; Chris Sturgis, President, MetisNet; Paul Leather, Deputy Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Education; and Virgel Hammonds, Superintendent, RSU 2 School District, Maine.

Forum Brief – The Use of Research within State Education Agencies, March 22, 2013

As education policy decisions shift to the state level, State Education Agencies are well positioned to use high quality research in policy and practice decisions. They also play a critical role in supporting the use of research-based practices among a wide range of stakeholders. This forum shared findings from recent research, funded by the W.T. Grant Foundation, on how research is used to inform policy and practice decisions within State Education Agencies. Dr. Margaret Goertz, Professor of Education Policy, University of Pennsylvania and Co-Director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, discussed how staff in State Education Agencies access, interpret, and use research to inform their work and how external partners support the dissemination of research within the agency. Carrie Conaway, Associate Commissioner for Planning, Research, and Delivery Systems, Massachusetts Department of Education, discussed how research was shared within the State Education Agency and how staff incorporated external research organizations when capacity within state agencies was insufficient. Jennifer Davis, Interim Director, Innovation Lab Network, Council of Chief State School Officers, examined how research partnerships can be scaled up and external organizations can promote the development of social networks within state agencies to encourage the use of research-based practices.

Webinar Recording – Helping Students with Disabilities Transition to College and Careers, March 25, 2013

Research and experience point to the importance of high quality transition services in preparing students with disabilities for college, careers, and other positive post-school outcomes, and this webinar will highlight research, policies, and programs that have helped students with disabilities transition successfully. Presenters included Dr. Michael Wehmeyer, Professor, Department of Special Education, University of Kansas, who has been a leader in issues of self-determination, transition, access to the general education curriculum for students with severe disabilities, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities; Johnny Collett, Office of Next Generation Learning, Division of Learning Services, Kentucky Department of Education, who discussed how the Kentucky education offices have reorganized to ensure that students with disabilities are fully integrated into their efforts to improve college and career readiness; and Allison Chase, Florida State Director of High School High Tech, who described their program that provides high school students with all types of disabilities the opportunity to explore jobs or postsecondary education leading to technology-related careers and links them to a broad range of academic, career development, and experiential resources and experiences that enable them to meet the demands of the 21st century workforce.

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Check these out – recommended reading from the AYPF staff

Pathways through College: Strategies for Improving Community College Student Success Our Piece of the Pie

This brief highlights the issues preventing students from succeeding in college, specifically looking at the lack of focused preparation that students receive in high school. To solve these problems and bring the rate of success up to a level that will fill job market needs, the report offers up small case studies of successful initiatives across the nation. Ranging from remedial education reform to funding incentives, approaches beyond Connecticut are already proving to be effective in improving outcomes for the community college student population. In addition, a case study of OPP’s Postsecondary Success Initiative highlights the fact that, when community college students receive the support they need, they can succeed, and experience the economic and social benefits that come with college graduation.

Signaling Success: Boosting Teen Employment Prospects Commonwealth Corporation

Over the past year the Commonwealth Corporation has engaged in a research project with the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University, aimed at understanding why the teen and young adult labor market has had a precipitous decline over the last decade. The project included an administered survey as well as focused conversations with over 200 Massachusetts and National employers to learn about their perceptions of teens as workers – both behaviors and skills – and factors affecting hiring decisions and hiring preferences. This report summarizes the findings of the research, and identifies key underlying causes for the deterioration in teen employment pathways.

Leaving to Learn: How Out-of-School Learning Increases Student Engagement and Reduces Dropout Rates Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski

In the U.S., one student drops out of school every 12 seconds.  Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski, both of Big Picture Learning, have a proven, innovative solution for stemming the flow of drop-outs and breaking the cycle of disengagement that leads up to it.  It’s called Leaving to Learn.  This book reveals the real reasons youth drop out and the essential conditions for productive learning that today’s adolescents require.  The authors argue that in order to retain students through to graduation, schools must offer experiences where students do some of their learning outside of school. In addition, the authors offer guidelines for implementing a high-quality Leaving to Learn program, including: examples of the many forms of out-of-school learning (internships, travel, community service, independent projects, and more); seamlessly integrating students’ outside learning with in-school curriculum; and assigning academic credit for out-of-school accomplishments.

Promoting College and Career Readiness: A Pocket Guide for State and District Leaders American Institutes for Research

To contribute to the national conversation on preparing youth for college and career success, AIR has developed Promoting College and Career Readiness: A Pocket Guide for State and District Leaders. This research-based reference tool identifies strategies to ensure that all students, regardless of special needs or language fluency, are prepared for postsecondary education and careers.

Funding Career Pathways and Career Pathway Bridges: A Federal Funding Toolkit for States CLASP

Career pathways are an approach that many states are adopting to fix fragmented and leaky educational pipelines, so that adults and out-of-school youth can succeed in postsecondary education and employment. Career pathways are linked education and training services that enable students to advance over time to successively higher levels of education and employment in a given industry or occupational sector. The 2010 edition of the funding toolkit was widely cited and used at the federal, state, and local levels. This new edition, which was developed with support from the Joyce Foundation, includes fresh state and local examples and revised program profiles reflecting critical legislative and administrative changes to key federal programs. Of all the elements of career pathways, support services are among the most important for ensuring student success, yet they are also the most difficult to fund. A new appendix identifies 10 federal funding sources that can be used to provide a wide range of support services

It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success Association of American Colleges and Universities

Especially since the recent economic downturn and in light of the increasingly competitive global economy, employers express concerns about whether the U.S. is producing enough college graduates and whether they have the skills, knowledge, and personal responsibility to contribute to a changing workplace and help companies and organizations succeed and grow.  This report provides a detailed analysis of employers’ priorities for the kinds of learning today’s college students need to succeed in this innovation-fueled economy.  It also reports on changes in educational and assessment practices that employers recommend.

More and Better Learning: Year One Report on ExpandED Schools TASC

In 2011, TASC launched a national demonstration of its ExpandED Schools initiative in 11 elementary and middle schools in New York City, Baltimore and New Orleans. TASC helps each school partner with a strong youth-serving community organization, such as a settlement house or community development corporation, to add three hours to the conventional six-and-a-half hour school day. Teachers and principals coalesce with their community partners into powerful teams that support students cognitively, physically and emotionally. Together they redesign schools to meet their shared goals for students and deliver on the promise of a great public education for every child. This report presents findings from the first year of this demonstration project. The report also share lessons learned by TASC and its partners as schools begin to break from the outdated, 19th-century school calendar.


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels.

AYPF events and publications are made possible by a consortium of philanthropic foundations: Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationWilliam T. Grant Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundationand others.



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