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Practices with Promise Success Story

Submitted By: San Diego, San Diego Adult Education Regional Consortia

Boosting High School Completion

The Challenge

Traditionally, the high school diploma was an independent study model, with limited student success. Student attendance was sporadic, as there was no managed attendance policy. Furthermore, students struggled to engage in the curriculum, demonstrate critical thinking, utilize technology effectively, or collaborate with classmates. There was limited classroom community and a lack of unity overall. Not only were students not obtaining enough high school credits to graduate, they were not developing an appreciation for learning, or building valuable skills needed to succeed in college and the workplace.

The Solution

A needs analysis was completed by the Adult Basic and Secondary Education department in San Diego Continuing Education. The result was a paradigm shift from independent learning to direct-instruction. Students were grouped into subject-based cohorts to build community. The open entry/open-exit model was replaced by a managed attendance policy, requiring students to attend 90% of the session. The semester schedule was divided into three six-week sessions in order to ensure an accelerated pathway to completion. Students also have the option of attending morning, afternoon, and/or evening classes. Curriculum was redesigned to meet College and Career Readiness Standards derived from the Common Core State Standards.


Student results have been evident in increased completion of high school credits, improved retention and persistence, and a transformation in the culture of the learning center. The environment has become more academic, students are voicing more determination to attend college, and a shared movement towards collaboration is evident. With the options of morning, afternoon, and/or evening classes, students can earn 9 credits in one semester with full-time attendance. The data reflect a 192% increase in credits earned compared to the previous semester. Students now have increased access to technology in the classroom, integrated basic skills instruction, and additional opportunities for critical thinking and reflective learning.

The Data

• Increased learner persistence from 31.17% (2011- 2012) to 86.72% (Spring 2013)
• 192% increase in high school credits completed in first semester
• dramatically improved student retention
• 100% CAHSEE Math pass rate (day program)
• Improved attendance to unprecedented levels (students must attend a minimum of 90% of the 6-week class)
• Increased transition rates to Community Colleges (SD Mesa, SD City)
• Transformational shift in class culture – students have become focused and academically competitive for highest rank in class/“Dean’s List” status
• increased involvement in student services, such as DSPS (Disability Support Programs and Services), TRACE (Transition Resources for Adult Community Education), and Transition to College

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