Making the Move: How Freshman Academies and Thematic Small Learning Communities Can Support Successful Transitions



Connell, J.P., Eccles, J., Kemple, J., & Legters, N. – Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education

“Making the Move” examines how thematic small, personalized learning communities and freshman academies offer promising research-based approaches to significantly reducing school dropout rates between the 9th and 10th grades.

The authors represent two national model developers and technical assistance providers and a national research and policy organization involved in evaluating these and other high school reform programs. In this paper, they present the basic theory of change behind both small personalized learning communities and freshman academies, drawing deeply upon the youth development and education research bases.  After situating thematic personalized learning communities and freshman academies within their respective comprehensive reform models, the authors put forward both formative and summative evidence to share lessons learned as technical assistance providers working with schools to implement these strategies.