California’s approximately 500 continuation high schools are estimated to serve more than 115,000 students each year—a number that approaches almost 10% of all high school students and as many as one of every seven high school seniors. Based on their statewide study, the authors conclude that, as a whole, these schools are failing to provide the academic and critical support services that students need to succeed. In this report, the authors explore the role that the state, local districts, and school leaders play in affecting school quality and student outcomes in continuation schools. Also examined are the roles of community nonprofits, and county or municipal social services, law enforcement, or juvenile justice agencies that are important in the lives of adolescents in these alternative schools. In earlier reports, the authors’ objective was to describe the schools and the challenges they face. In this report, the focus is on schools that are performing well under state and federal accountability systems and reflect on what these schools can tell us about promising policy and practice interventions. These “beating the odds” schools provide valuable lessons for policymakers and practitioners statewide.
Ruiz de Velasco, J., & McLaughlin, M. (2012). Raising the Bar, Building Capacity: Driving Improvements in California's Continuation High Schools. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities.