As it becomes increasingly clear that a rich set of skills beyond academic knowledge is needed to thrive in college and career, schools must create the learning environments that help youth develop the range of knowledge, skills, and mindsets that research links to postsecondary success. In 2010-2011, 83,469 California youth left school without a high school diploma. Just 65 percent of 2008 California high school graduates enrolled in a postsecondary program shortly after high school.
Only 63 percent of those attending four-year colleges completed a degree within six years, and 31 percent of those attending two-year colleges graduated within three years.These patterns are not specific to California. Across the nation, a young person's socioeconomic background correlates highly with academic outcomes. The pattern is particularly troubling because an individual's level of education has a direct correlation with future earnings and other measures of life quality.
Schools are struggling to help more youth develop the increasingly complex body of knowledge, skills, and mindsets they need to succeed in college, careers, and civic life. In and Beyond Schools argues that building these skills and knowledge requires an integrated approach to youth development, one that leverages the expertise of schools and community resources beyond schools. As schools develop richer learning environments that nurture a broader range of psychosocial skills, this work can be enabled and accelerated through community partnerships that help schools build and complement their own strengths. Public and nonprofit organizations and agencies that work with young people beyond the school day often have experience developing many of the qualities and skills that research associates with college and career success. However, their expertise and resources are underutilized in the absence of sufficient incentives, structures, and policies to systematically align their work with public schools.