After a review of existing data about programs to improve educational and employment outcomes for disadvantaged youth, the authors consider some practical proposals for implementing effective programs for youth.
“Low high school graduation rates and sharply declining employment rates among disadvantaged youth have led to increasing numbers of youth who are disconnected from both school and work. What programs and policies might prevent these disconnections and improve educational and employment outcomes, particularly among young men? [The authors] reviewed the evidence base on youth development policies for adolescents and young teens; programs seeking to improve educational attainment and employment for in-school youth; and programs that try to ‘reconnect’ those who are out of school and frequently out of work, including public employment programs. [The authors] identified a number of programmatic strategies that are promising or even proven, based on rigorous evaluations, for disadvantaged youth with different circumstances, and concluded that policy efforts need to promote a range of approaches to engage and reconnect youth, along with ongoing evaluation efforts to improve our understanding of what works, including which program components, for whom” (p.3). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Investments in youth development and mentoring efforts for adolescents can be quite cost-effective, even though the impacts are modest and tend to fade over time. Paid work experience, especially when combined with high-quality career and technical education, can be quite successful for at-risk students in high school, both by effectively engaging them in the short term and giving them valuable skills and labor market experience that can improve their earnings over time. The Career Academies, in particular, are a very effective means of improving skills and earnings as well as high school graduation rates among at-risk young men. Other programs that allow for individual monitoring and case management that identify at-risk youth fairly early and provide them with intensive academic and personal services seem promising as well, as do other programs that create small learning communities” (p.28). (Abstractor: Author)