Back on Track State and Federal Policy and Advocacy

Back on Track Designs

Reengaging Opportunity Youth

Reengaging youth and young adults who are off track to graduation, or disconnected from both education and work, and putting them on a path to postsecondary credentials.

Lili Allen
Associate Vice President, Reconnection Strategies and Designs
617.728.4446 x105

Back on Track State and Federal Policy and Advocacy

As the country struggles to escape from recession and many priorities compete for public attention, one thing most people agree on is the importance of improving education, and particularly of raising postsecondary completion rates. But reaching this goal will require attention to new demographic realities. Trends point to continuing growth in the numbers of young adults who are most underrepresented and underserved in postsecondary education: low-income young people, disproportionatly black and Latino, who too often are concentrated in low-performing, high-poverty schools that fail to graduate them or prepare them adequately for further education or careers. Improving educational outcomes for this large and growing group is essential to economic recovery and long-term growth.

How can Back on Track pathways be made available to far more young people across our nation?

Ultimately, bringing those efforts to statewide and national scale will require policies that:

  • Encourage and reward strategic collaborations across secondary and postsecondary institutions and community-based organizations
  • Promote investments in models that work
  • Create mutual accountability among these systems to effectively serve this population of young people

Opportunities to support the scale up of what works exist in the legislative and regulatory realm, as well as in the convening and “bully pulpit” capacities of federal and national policymakers and opinion leaders.

Jobs for the Future informs and advises key state and federal policymakers on policies that promote and support the development and implementation of Back on Track models. JFF elevates the voice of local practitioners to inform policy design and helps them leverage federal and state policies to support their work. JFF also widely disseminates policy briefs, model policy sets, and accompanying web-based tools. JFF’s Back on Track policy efforts include:

  • Responding to queries for expert advise from the U.S. Department of Education on key education issues such as, graduation rate accountability, dropout prevention and recovery, investing in innovation and improving under-performing high schools
  • Educating federal officials and policymakers on current research and innovative practices for improving high school and postsecondary completion
  • Engaging leaders in large cities (e.g., Boston; Chicago; Mobile, AL; New York City; Philadelphia) in advising the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Education on key reauthorizations
  • Preparing policy briefs, model policy sets, and accompanying Web-based tools that inform the development of, for example, effective dropout prevention and recovery policy and the revamping of alternative education policy

JFF’s policy efforts help lawmakers in state capitols and in Washington respond to the needs of their constituents—from families trying to send their kids to college and employers looking for better-skilled workers.

Policy Brief: Read Back on Track's policy recommendations in Dropout Recovery Is National Recovery

Interactive Map Tools: Learn more about how your state is promoting Dropout Prevention and Recovery and Reinventing Alternative Education policy using interactive map tools.

Current Work: JFF offers state-specific guidance to Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Massachusetts, among others for creating supportive policies for Back on Track Designs.