The Effectiveness of Middle College High School
Middle College High Schools are alternative high schools located on college campuses that aim to help at-risk students complete high school and encourage them to attend college. The schools offer a project-centered, interdisciplinary curriculum, with an emphasis on team teaching, individualized attention, and development of critical thinking skills. Students are also offered support services, including specialized counseling, peer support, and career experience opportunities.
One study of Middle College High School met the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards. This randomized controlled trial included 394 students in the Seattle Public Schools who were assigned to an intervention group that was offered admission to the alternative high school or a control group that was not. Control group students were free to participate in other regular and alternative high schools operated by the school district and in General Educational Development (GED) programs. Most control group students participated in one of these other education options.
Middle College High School was found to have no discernible effects on staying in school or completing school.
Absence of conflict of interest
The Middle College High School study summarized in this intervention report was prepared by staff of Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR). Because the principal investigator for the WWC dropout prevention review is also an MPR staff member and the lead study author, the study was rated by staff membersfrom Caliber, an ICF International Company, who also prepared the intervention report. The report was then reviewed by MPR staff members and by members of the WWC Technical Review Team and external peer reviewers.
Additonal Program Information
Developer and contact
Information on the history of the Middle College High School model and current resources for program implementation are available from the Middle College National Consortium (MCNC). Web: http://www.mcnc.us. Telephone: (718) 361-1981. Scope of use The MCNC reports that, as of December 2006, the Middle Col- lege High School program was operating in 31 school districts in 12 states.
Description of intervention
Middle College High Schools are alternative high schools that operate as formal collaborations between local school districts and colleges. The schools, which offer regular high school diplomas, are small--with fewer than 100 students per grade--and are located on college campuses. Faculty and students have access to the college's educational resources and facilities, and students can take college-level courses. The curriculum empha- sizes development of critical thinking skills and connecting what is learned to real-world experiences. These schools typically offer career-oriented courses and internships. In addition, students often must complete a community service requirement to graduate. Classes are taught by high school teachers from the local school district. Faculty teach collaboratively and integrate material across disciplines. Within team-taught classes, students often participate in collaborative learning groups. Student-to- staff ratios are substantially lower than in traditional high school programs, allowing more individual attention. Middle College High Schools often use alternative assessment strategies, such as portfolios and oral presentations. They emphasize democratic school governance and use school committeesÑincluding administrators, faculty, parents, students, and college and community representativesÑto provide input and guidance on school operations.
Researchers estimated the cost of Middle College High School in Seattle to be $965 a student per month of program participation--about 50% higher than the cost of educating a student in a regular school within the district (estimated to be $649 a month).
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
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