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Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum Resources

It is important that all leaders in the district and encompassing schools are engaged in making curriculum relevant and rigorous. These resources will help you and your district build an engaging curriculum that will promote student graduation.

Authentic Instruction and Assessment: Common Standards for Rigor and Relevance in Teaching Academic Subjects

The framework sets standards for teaching academic subjects that

    • maximize expectations of intellectual rigor for all students,
    • increase student interest in academic work
    • support teachers’ taking time to teach for in-depth understanding rather than superficial coverage of material,
    • provide a common conception of student intellectual work that promotes professional community among teachers of different grade levels and subjects, and
    • most important, equip students to address the complex intellectual changes of work, civic participation, and managing personal affairs in the contemporary world.

This guide includes standards for instruction and rubrics for evaluation. This guide includes a high level of research and plenty of examples! This guide does not provide a step-by-step guide, but is a great starting point to implement the framework of authentic instruction and assessment of rigorous and relevant curriculum.

Career Academies

Career Academies are school-within-school programs operating in high schools. They offer career-related curricula based on a career theme, academic coursework, and work experience through partnerships with local employers.

Career Academy Support Network

The Toolbox can save you hours of time. The menu on the right guides you to a wide range of templates ready to be tailored to your specific needs—Potluck Supper Invitations, Advisory Committee Worksheets, Mentor Evaluation Checklists, Academy Semester Awards—over 125 different documents, ready for download. This site offers many resources if you are interested in implementing career academies. Aside from the toolbox, this site offers guides and articles about planning, implementing, and evaluating successful career academies.

Institute of Education Sciences, What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report- Career Academies

This resource is an excellent three pager that reviews research evidence for Career Academies success.

Implementing Career Academies Schoolwide: Four Case Studies. Career Academy Support Network

This document provides four in-depth case studies of schools across the nation that have implemented career academies. It investigates how they implemented them and the results. It also offers a self-assessment guide for career academies and companion guideline for analyzing student data.

Career Academies National Standards of Practice

To help meet these needs, communities and school districts should offer a wide range of learning options for adolescents that are located both in the high school and in the wider community.

Career academies are one of several models or initiatives that communities and school districts can make available to high school students. By bridging school and the world of work in a way that leads to academic achievement, career academies have been successful in engaging many students who would otherwise be indifferent to or possibly lost from school.

As a reform initiative, career academies have proven their value. With ongoing improvement suggested by the National Standards of Practice, and widely known best practices, career academies are well positioned to lead and influence high school reform efforts and policy debates. Educators and policymakers should rely on the central elements of a career academy and use the National Standards of Practice as a guide to help develop effective high school reforms with positive outcomes for students.


Service-learning is a teaching and learning method that connects meaningful community service experiences with academic learning, personal growth, and civic responsibility. There are many reasons why students drop out of school, but the most common ones are boredom and disaffection. Service-learning is an active learning strategy that connects students to the school and the real world. Personal and social developments are also influenced and students learn a sense of responsibility. Middle school students, in particular, benefit from service-learning activities. Students have the opportunity to work as a team, build their self-esteem and self-efficacy, and collaborate with positive adult role models.

Engaged for Success: Service-Learning as a Tool for High School Dropout Prevention

Service-learning holds the potential to address each of the underlying causes of low graduation rates, while incorporating the strategies most recommended for preventing students from dropping out.

K-12 Starter Kit

The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse has gathered the practical tools presented on this page to help you get started with service-learning in K-12 schools. Whether you are new to service-learning or just starting a program or project, the resources in the toolkit will assist you in developing and implementing a program or project

K-12 Service-Learning Project Planning Toolkit

“The information is organized into an overview and five chapters, each addressing the components. Assessment is discussed throughout each chapter. Each chapter includes two types of documents: guides and worksheets. Guides include a brief explanation of the particular component of service-learning being discussed, an example of how a real-world project has worked with this component, questions to guide your thinking, and suggested resources for further exploration. Each guide is also accompanied by a worksheet designed to walk you and your students through the process of planning each component of a service-learning project.”

National Service-Learning Partnership

Provides a network of service learning supporters, tools, resources, and best practices, as well as a "service-learning marketplace,” and monthly updates with news and opportunities to take action.”

Multiple Pathways to Graduation

MPG is not a single program, but rather a problem‐solving approach that assumes different high school students need to learn in different ways and in different settings. This approach also assumes that the traditional comprehensive high school is not designed to identify threats to students’ graduation, or to intervene in time to preserve students’ opportunities. A given district’s MPG initiative can encompass many different types of schools and programs within schools. Some districts regard

MPG as their core strategy for high school education, and hope to apply it in all schools, not just those serving poor and minority students.

Multiple Pathways To Graduation: New Routes to High School Completion

At the request of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Center on Reinventing Public Education undertook this study to explain the motivation and core ideas behind Multiple Pathways to Graduation initiatives in localities that are pursuing them, document any differences in theory and implementation from one locality to another, and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. Although some highly informative studies have been done on individual districts, schools, and pathways, this study attempts to bring a broader perspective to national trends within this movement.

Professional Development

Professional development must be coherent and meaningful, and provide teachers with enough time and support to implement what they have learned. The U.S. Department of Education (1995) has identified a series of elements essential for effective professional development, including

    • Focuses on teachers as central to student learning, yet includes all other members of the school community
    • Focuses on individual, collegial, and organizational improvement
    • Respects and nurtures the intellectual and leadership capacity of teachers, principals, and others in the school community
    • Reflects best available research and practice in teaching, learning, and leadership
    • Is planned collaboratively by those who will participate in and facilitate that development
    • Requires substantial time and other resources
    • Is driven by a coherent, long term plan

Professional development committees should design plans that focus on personal development and organizational improvement goals, using research-based programs to achieve them.

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