New Report Shows NAF’s Impact on Graduation Rates

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Major findings from the study, prepared by ICF, suggest that the NAF educational design makes a difference for all high school students – especially those at-risk of not graduating – and finds its highest success in four-year, full-program participation

NAF is thrilled to share the findings of a new study, prepared by ICF, an external evaluator, that examines the effect of the NAF educational design on high school graduation rates. This report focused on a cohort of students tracked from Grade 9 through graduation from 10 districts across the nation. During the years of the study, the average US high school graduation rate was 81.9%, which is reflective of schools nationwide, while NAF primarily works with underserved schools.

NAF’s educational design is unique in its approach to ignite students’ passion for learning, give businesses the opportunity to shape America’s future workforce, and is flexible enough to implement in high schools and communities of all shapes and sizes. Students experience a rigorous, career-focused curriculum and are provided with exposure to the working world, including site visits, job shadows, internships, and opportunities to network and learn from experienced business professionals.

Major findings from the study, “Transforming the High School Experience: NAF’s Cohort Graduation Rates from 2011-2015” suggest that the NAF educational design makes a difference for all high school students - especially those at-risk of not graduating - and finds its highest success in four-year, full-program participation. More specifics can be found below:

  • The results also imply that NAF services provide a greater impact for students remaining in the program through graduation in comparison to students exiting the program prior to graduation.
  • Overall, students enrolled in a NAF academy graduated at a higher rate than non-NAF students (over 3.3%)
  • With full-program participation, NAF students graduated at a higher rate than non-NAF students (over 6%)
  • With full-program participation, at-risk NAF students graduated had a higher graduation rate than non-NAF students (over 10%)

Katherine Blasik, Vice President, Research and Evaluation at NAF, said, “NAF is pleased to have taken part in this critical report, released by ICF, that has evaluated the effectiveness of an educational design that has yielded positive results for high school students all throughout our history. These results will allow us to continue improving outcomes for students across the nation – regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic background. We would like to thank ICF for their hard work and look forward to utilizing the findings, as part of our efforts in expanding access to opportunity for ALL future leaders.”

Overall, the data proves that a diploma is more than a measure of success – it also offers life-changing opportunities, in terms of more job and earning possibilities. NAF academies provide students with the skills and resources they need to break the poverty cycle, develop their talent and experience, and build the life that they want. NAF’s educational design continues to make a powerful difference in preparing our nation’s high school students to be college, career, and future ready. These students will be the leaders of tomorrow and by bringing the education and business communities together to invest in their futures, they will be able to prosper in the global marketplace.

Click here to access the full report:

About NAF:

NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure that high school students are college, career, and future ready.

NAF works with high need communities to transform the high school experience through an educational design that includes industry-specific curricula, work-based learning experiences, and relationships with business professionals, culminating in a paid internship. NAF academies fit within and enhance school systems, allowing NAF to become an integral part of a plan for higher achievement at a low cost. NAF academies focus on one of five career themes: finance, hospitality & tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. During the 2016-17 school year more than 96,000 students attended 675 NAF academies across 36 states, including D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2016, NAF academies reported 96% of seniors graduated with 92% of graduates with post-secondary intentions. For more information, please visit:

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Courtney Savoia
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