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  • October 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 7

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High School Program for Expectant, Parenting Students Improves Academic Outcomes

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) shows a school-based program designed to help teenage mothers improve their academic outcomes and educational attainment has increased school attendance and achievement. The voluntary program encourages expectant and parenting students to attend and complete high school and offers both parenting and life skills classes as well as incentives for student academic achievement.

The New Heights program was initially launched in the 1990s at two of the largest high schools in Washington, DC, where the birth rate for Hispanic and African-American teens is 25 times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white females. District of Columbia Public Schools expanded the New Heights program during the 2011-2012 school year to all large high schools to help expectant and parenting students with the challenges of pregnancy, parenthood, and completing high school.

Mathematica Policy Research evaluated the New Heights program on behalf of OAH and found positive impacts in all domains for the 2011–2015 period:

  • New Heights reduced unexcused absences by 4.5 days per semester among parenting females, representing a reduction in school absences of 18.6 percent.
  • New Heights increased the number of excused absences per semester among parenting females by 1.4, representing a 23.7 percent jump in excused absences.
  • New Heights increased school attendance for parenting females by about 7.0 days per school year, representing a 5.8 percent increase.
  • New Heights increased the number of credits received for parenting females by 1.1 annually, representing a 24.4 percent increase in credits earned per year.
  • New Heights increased semester graduation rates among parenting females who were 17 or older by 18.8 percent.

Raising the Bar: Impacts and Implementation of the New Heights Program is available at https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/our-publications-and-findings/publications/raising-the-bar-impacts-and-implementation-of-the-new-heights-program-for-expectant-and-parenting.

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