Multiple Pathways to Graduation: New Routes to High School Completion

Eric Ulas

Shannon Marsh and Paul Hill
Center on Reinventing Public Education
May 2010

Urban districts across the country have long been exploring alternative approaches to identifying, retaining and graduating their students most at risk of dropping out. What has emerged in recent years in a handful of districts is known as a Multiple Pathways to Graduation (MPG) approach. This working paper from the Center on Reinventing Public Education draws on interviews from several districts with MPG strategies and provides an overview for districts interested in implementing such programs.

The report provides a good overview of the three types of MPG programs: The Targeted Population approach is the most popular and is widely seen in East Coast urban districts. This approach uses data segmentation analysis to identify students most at risk and match them to a program that meets their specific needs. District-Wide and Linked Learning pathways are rarer and confined to single districts on the West Coast. Portland Public Schools has opted for the District-Wide model while Sacramento City Unified School District has opted for the Career and Technical Education-focused Linked Learning model.

The most useful aspects of the paper are short analyses that would help interested districts identify which models of MPG would best suit their needs. Also of use are the basic startup requirements, benefits, and challenges of each model.

All in all, this is a good primer for any administrator who is considering a Multiple Pathways to Graduation program. This paper would be a particularly good read for administrators in Ohio urban districts (Cleveland and Columbus are both singled out in the introduction for their high drop-out rates) that have long been struggling to boost graduation rates. Read the report here.

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