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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Academic Skills Enhancement

NCJ Number
Date Published
5 pages
Based on a review of relevant literature by the American Youth Policy Forum, this report discusses the features of 20 programs that evaluations have found to be effective in positively impacting youth at risk of dropping out of school, engaging in delinquent behavior, or failing to reach academic and professional objectives.
The literature review identified 20 programs out of hundreds reviewed that have produced higher test scores, graduation from school in higher numbers, and matriculation and remaining in college in higher numbers (Jurich and Estes 2000) compared with other programs with similar goals. A qualitative analysis of these 20 programs found that they share common features that the American Youth Policy Forum synthesized into five strategies that have enhanced academic skills. One strategy is "high expectations for youths, program, and staff." This strategy encompasses academically challenging programmatic content; staff expectation that all students have the ability to succeed; clear educational goals; ongoing staff training; and rigorous program evaluation. A second strategy is "personalized attention." Features of this strategy are staff concern for each youth as a student and her/his personal development; use of small learning environments; individual help and support; and provision for extra services. A third strategy involves "experiential learning," which includes innovative educational environments that make learning exciting and relevant to youths' interests and challenges. A fourth strategy common to the 20 programs is "innovative structure/organization," which features research-focused programming, flexible hours of operation, extension of the school year, use of summer months and after-school hours, team teaching, teacher involvement in program design, and the participation of students' families and community organizations. The fifth common strategy of the programs involves "long-term support," which includes program duration of 1 to 5 years for grades 9 through 12 and an emphasis on academic transitions and post-graduation support. 19 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000