Preparing At-Risk Youth for the Future
A large fraction of American youth perform poorly in high school, and many of these youth fail to obtain a high school degree. The costs of failure in high school are growing, both for the individual student and for society overall. Mathematica researchers have conducted many of the most important studies of at-risk youth and interventions designed to address their educational needs.
Synthesizing Lessons from Dropout Prevention Programs
We have studied a diverse array of dropout prevention approaches, ranging from small programs in a single school to those designed to address the dropout problem in clusters of schools or entire school districts. ...view middle of the document...
To help educators better identify these youth, Mathematica uses national longitudinal data sets to identify variables that can predict which students will eventually drop out. This information can be valuable for helping dropout prevention programs better target their services. By drawing on recent and older longitudinal data, we are examining how the predictors of dropping out have changed over time. This research builds on Mathematica's previous studies of factors that predict whether or not students will drop out.
Encouraging Positive Behaviors
Educators and policymakers have been exploring strategies to encourage students to develop useful social skills and habits and refrain from violent, disruptive, or self-destructive behaviors. We are evaluating the impact of mandatory random drug testing programs. In addition, our evaluation of social and character development is assessing programs designed to promote positive social and character development and reduce negative behaviors among elementary school children.
Evaluating Alternative Schools
Many school districts have sought to create special environments, called alternative schools, that focus on encouraging highly at-risk students to graduate from high school. Our analysis revealed that programs with a more academic focus seemed to improve instruction, but alternative schools have had mixed success in achieving their primary objective. Although alternative school students were more likely to attend school, go to school more days, and earn more credits, after three years in these programs, only about 40 percent had graduated.
Helping At-Risk Youth Prepare for Postsecondary Education
In preparing for postsecondary education, disadvantaged...