GSE Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

April 2006


Despite the growth of a variety of alternatives to the neighborhood high school, most students in big-city school systems still attend large comprehensive high schools that serve a particular residential area. The authors contend that the extreme concentration of educational need at these schools is often overlooked by policymakers, school reform programs, and even district personnel. To illustrate the challenges facing neighborhood high schools, this paper examines key academic characteristics of ninth graders in Philadelphia during 1999-00. The authors find that a large percentage of ninth graders at neighborhood high schools have been ninth graders for two or more years. Many of the first-time ninth graders are either over-age, two or more years below grade level in reading and math, or had weak attendance in eighth grade. These data suggest that large and sustained investments of human and financial capital are desperately needed in the many neighborhood schools that serve primarily, and often almost exclusively, students with multiple risk factors for academic failure.


Copyright Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Postprint version. Published in Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, Volume 11, Issue 2, April 2006, pages 123-141.
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school demography, education needs, high risk students, attendance, academic failure



Date Posted: 29 January 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.