Improved Solutions for Urban Systems' High Schools

An Effective Practice


Improved Solutions for Urban Systems (ISUS) operates three state-chartered high schools for youth ages 16-22, many of whom are returning high school dropouts, over age for grade level and lack basic skills. The schools combine rigorous academics and occupational skills with youth development and community development. Students earn a high school diploma, college credits and nationally recognized skill certifications. ISUS offers students three career tracks: residential construction, advanced manufacturing/computer technology, and health care. The students alternate between academic and technical instruction and hands-on work experience. For example, health care students volunteer at local hospitals, computer students refurbish computers that are donated to needy youth, construction and manufacturing students build homes for low-income families.

Annual student enrollment at the school approaches 400. The student population is about 60 percent African American; 40 percent Caucasian and 70 percent male. Three-quarters are considered low income, and 80 percent are court-involved. Of the student population 24 percent have disabilities. The types of disabilities include autism, cognitive, emotional disturbance, other health impairments, specific learning disability, and speech or language impairment. Class sizes are small, providing youth with individualized instruction.

Goal / Mission

The goal of ISUS is to address an escalating dropout problem and to better prepare these youth for work in high-demand industries.

Results / Accomplishments

In 2004, 60% of students were able to graduate with a high school diploma. Graduation requirements are rigorous. Students must pass all core academic subjects, averaging no less than a C in the technical courses; pass all five parts of the Ohio Proficiency Exam; achieve at least a 4 out of a possible 6 on the Work Keys exams; and maintain at least a 90 percent attendance rate in their final year. 85% of graduates were placed in employment following graduation.

Additional accomplishments include the following: 45% of students earned college credit while in high school, and the recidivism rate was only 15% of court-involved youth.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Ann Higdon
Improved Solutions for Urban Systems, Inc.
140 N. Keowee Street
Dayton, OH 45402
(937) 223-2323 ext 200
Education / Student Performance K-12
Education / Vocational & Adult Education
Economy / Employment
Improved Solutions for Urban Systems, Inc.
Date of publication
Date of implementation
Geographic Type
Dayton, OH
For more details
Target Audience

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