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8 Comprehensive High School Reform Designs The previous chapters describe the key features of high schools that are necessary to engage students from challenging backgrounds. Imple- menting any one of these features will have modest effects at best on student engagement. The evidence suggests that narrowly construed inter- ventions addressing isolated aspects of school functioning and student experience are not sufficient to move students toward high levels of en- gagement and achievement. Implementing some of the suggestions made in this volume without consideration of the larger picture could even under- mine student engagement. Comprehensive school reform models have been created to guide whole- school, sometimes whole-district, efforts to improve student engagement and learning. The goal is to put all the pieces together to create a set of reforms that will support and reinforce each other and be sufficient to improve substantially student engagement and learning. Designers of school reform models also create organizational structures that provide ongoing assistance for implementation on a broad scale. As a movement, comprehensive school reform has existed for some time. A few reform models that exist today began as long as two decades ago. The movement gained substantial momentum, however, in 1997 when Congress approved $150 million to support implementation of comprehen- sive school designs in school districts nationwide. An additional $134 mil- lion for comprehensive reform was approved in fiscal year 1999, enabling more than 2,000 schools to receive grants of at least $50,000 to implement 187
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188 ENGAGING SCHOOLS reforms over 3 years. Most recently, reform of secondary schools has begun to receive attention from other federal and private philanthropic sources. The U.S. Department of Education has appropriated more than $125 mil- lion for reform of large comprehensive high schools1 and several founda- tions, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates and the Carnegie Foundations, also have made major investments. In this chapter we summarize a group of comprehensive school reform models available to high schools. The central features of the various design models overlap considerably, and one goal is to show the high level of consensus that has evolved regarding the features of effective secondary schools. A second goal is to provide examples of strategies that have been developed to reorganize high schools in ways consistent with the specific, research-based recommendations made in this volume. Designs included in this review of comprehensive reform initiatives are limited to those that: ˇ are being implemented in high schools serving economically disad- vantaged communities in more than one locality; ˇ are supported by national technical assistance organizations; ˇ include elements addressing all three broad areas covered in the earlier chapters of this volume: pedagogy (curriculum and how it is being taught); school organization, climate, and policies; and connections to the outside world; ˇ ground key features of the design in research on what increases high school students' engagement and learning; and ˇ articulate strategies for getting these research-based features imple- mented. The annex to this chapter provides a brief description of each initiative included in this review. First, we examined the degree to which comprehensive models that met our criteria include some of the key features of engaging high schools suggested by the research reviewed in this volume high standards for both academic learning and student conduct, personalization, meaningful and engaging pedagogy and curriculum, and professional learning communi- ties.2 Using materials provided by developers of each design, we assessed U.S. Department of Education grant 84-215L. 2Some of the other features suggested by the committee's review of the literature, such as changing the way counseling is conducted in schools and connecting schools to families and communities, are found less consistently in the current comprehensive design models. There- fore, we did not include them in this analysis.
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COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL REFORM DESIGNS 189 whether these four features were (1) not included, (2) recommended and supported by the design, or (3) central to and required by the design. Table 8-1 summarizes this analysis. As the table demonstrates, there is consider- able consistency in the presence of these four features in the description of the models, although not necessarily in all schools that have attempted to implement the models. A few models do not explicitly include high stan- dards for student conduct, and one does not address personalization of the family's experience. Only three models (Edison Schools, First Things First, and Talent Development High School) include all four of the features as central and required elements. Notwithstanding these variations, the con- clusions regarding some of the qualities of engaging schools discussed in this volume are remarkably well represented in national school reform models. Although in theory the models are consistent with empirical evidence on engaging schools, efforts to implement the models are still works in progress. For many reasons related to resources, the availability of credible and qualified technical assistance providers, and support and consistency in policies at the district and state levels, implementing these models in the real world is difficult. We return to some of the most common obstacles later in the chapter. Another approach to whole-school reform that incorporates principles of engagement is the movement to create small schools. The specific goals and findings related to small schools are discussed in Chapter 4. Although creating small schools is a prominent reform strategy, it does not fit the criteria for a comprehensive reform design because of the variability in objectives and design. Small schools are also often new schools rather than reformed existing schools with existing staff, administrators, and students. FROM THE WHAT TO THE HOW: IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES Having found such consistency across models in the key features of high school reform, we now turn to the means proposed by the models to put these features in place. Table 8-2 summarizes the strategies used by the comprehensive school models that met our criteria. Most of the strategies that are included in the models are based on research that has been dis- cussed in this volume. All of these reform models are designed to raise expectations for stu- dent academic performance and ensure equity of opportunity to meet these higher standards. Some models explicitly state what students are expected to know and be able to do by subject areas and by grade levels. The support organizations associated with some of the reform models hire staff to help
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COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL REFORM DESIGNS 191 schools align what is being taught and the evaluations of student learning with the higher standards. Many reform models do not incorporate specific strategies for improv- ing student conduct, although most work to improve behavior by providing more personalized, rigorous, and engaging experiences for students, includ- ing greater access to higher quality student and family services. For models that explicitly address how to improve behavior, staff work with small teacher learning communities to help them develop more effective disciplin- ary approaches that are consistent with existing policies. The models propose a variety of strategies for personalizing student and family experiences. Some models involve reorganizing larger schools into smaller units (often called small learning communities or academies) where the same students and teachers stay together for longer periods during the school day ("block" scheduling) and over at least two school years ("looping"), as described in Chapter 4. In some cases the smaller units have themes based on career or academic interests (see Chapter 7), which give students and their families some choice in the noncore curriculum. One of the goals of creating smaller learning units is for teachers to have fewer total students to know and to teach and for students to see fewer teachers. This is also achieved sometimes by using resources to involve more adults in teaching roles, thus reducing the student-teacher ratio (see Chapter 41. Another strategy that is common in comprehensive reform models is to provide an advisor, mentor, or advocate to each student, as described in Chapter 6. In some models, this person also communicates with students' families and helps identify students' nonacademic needs and connect students to services in the school or in the community to meet those needs. All of the comprehensive reform models address how teaching is done and what is being taught, although they vary considerably in how prescrip- tive they are. In most cases schools are expected to create schedules and staff assignments that increase instructional time and, in some designs, to reduce student-to-adult ratios, especially in language arts and math. Some of the reforms also include more specific guidelines for students who are substantially behind their grade level. The use of technology and project learning, cooperative learning, learn- ing opportunities that are embedded in real-worId contexts, and other strat- egies to involve students actively in the learning process are endorsed and supported by all models. Furthermore, all models refer specifically to the importance of connecting schoolwork to students' own interests, experi- ences outside of school, and culture. A curriculum that crosses traditional discipline boundaries is also common in the reform models. All of the comprehensive reform models recognize the importance of supporting teachers and helping schools build a community of adult as well
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94 ENGAGING SCHOOLS as student learners. One of the purposes of the designs that reorganize large high schools into smaller units is to create teams of teachers who share the same students. All of the models include opportunities for teachers to meet with one another to discuss their instruction, student progress, and gover- nance and policy issues affecting the school community. Some reform models work with schools to provide small learning communities with individual and disaggregated student data that are used to develop strategies to improve student achievement. All designs provide professional development opportunities, and some provide in-class and ongoing coaching. The relative emphasis on project-based learning, new teaching strategies, curriculum development and implementation, team building, and leadership training vary considerably among the reform models. A remarkable degree of overlap exists among the features and strategies stressed in comprehensive reform models and those the committee found evidence to support in its review of the research literature. Admittedly, many of the conclusions about effective practices are based on soft and incomplete evidence. Nevertheless, there is substantial convergence in the conclusions drawn by different people who have examined existing re- search and craft knowledge both about what needs to be done and prom- . . . . . . Sing strategies tor getting it ~ one. We turn next to evidence on the success of comprehensive school de- signs to improve student learning. Because most of the models are relatively new, and because some require two or more years to be fully implemented, the data here are both new and thin. Moreover, most of the designs de- scribed in this chapter are still in the research and development phase. Because they are changing in response to their emerging results, evaluations are often studies of moving targets. Studies discussed next, however, sug- gest that extant comprehensive school reform models show some promise of improving student engagement and learning. RESEARCH EVIDENCE An extensive array of research studies has been conducted on compre- hensive school reform models in the past decade. However, the majority has focused on elementary and middle schools (Berends et al., 2002; Kirby, Berends, and Naftel, 2001; McCombs and Quiat, 2000; Supovitz and Poglinco, 2001; Wenze! et al., 20011. The little evidence that does exist on the efficacy of the high school designs included in this chapter is consistent with evaluations of elementary and middle school reform efforts: When the school and its external partners are successful in implementing the reform's key features (see Table 8-1), the results are positive. For example, research
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COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL REFORM DESIGNS 195 on the most long-standing high school reform designs3 as well as more recent data emerging from internal studies of new high school designs4 indicate that when levels of personalization increase, so do levels of atten- dance and parent involvement, and disciplinary problems decline (Ancess and Wichterie, 1999; Berends, Kirby, Naftel, and McKelvey, 2001; Boykin, 2000; Fine, 1994; Hamilton and Gill, 2001; Institute for Research and Reform in Education, 2000, 2002; Legters, Balfanz, Jordan, and McPartiand, 2002; MacMullen, 1996; Nelson, 2000~. Evaluations of models, without examining the mediators of their ef- fects, suggest that comprehensive school design models show some promise of increasing high school students' engagement and learning. Two models that have examined the crime rate of their students (sometimes considered a measure of disengagement) Coalition of Essential Schools and Talent Development High Schools have found decreases in reported crimes after implementation (Ancess and Wichterie, 1999; Boykin, 2000; Legters et al., 2002; MacMullen, 1996~. Evaluation studies of high school reform models further show students taking more advanced academic courses5 (Boykin, 2000; Legters et al., 2002) and having higher levels of enrollment in postsecondary schools6 (Ancess and Wichterie, 1999; MacMullen, 1996), improved test scores7 (Ancess and Wichterie, 1999; Berends et al., 2001; Institute for Research and Reform in Education, 2002; MacMullen, 1996), increased persistence and graduation rates8 (Ancess and Wichterie, 1999; Bottoms and Presson, 2000; Institute for Research and Reform in Educa- tion,2000,2002; MacMullen, 1996), and decreased dropout rates9 (Ancess and Wichterie, 1999; Bottoms and Presson, 2000; Boykin, 2000; Institute for Research and Reform in Education, 2000, 2002; Legters et al., 2002; MacMullen, 1996~. In addition to assessing effects on individual and diverse indicators of student engagement and learning and related outcomes, evaluations of com- 3For example, Coalition of Essential Schools and High Schools That Work. 4For example, ATLAS Communities, Edison Schools, Expeditionary Learning, First Things First, and Talent Development High School. 5For example, High Schools That Work and Talent Development High School. 6For example, Coalition of Essential Schools and High Schools That Work. 7For example, Coalition of Essential Schools, Co-NECT, Expeditionary Learning/Outward Bound, First Things First, and High Schools That Work. 8For example, Coalition of Essential Schools, First Things First, and High Schools That Work. Nor example, ATLAS Communities, Coalition of Essential Schools, Community for Learn- ing, First Things First, High Schools That Work, and Talent Development High School.
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196 ENGAGING SCHOOLS prehensive school reform designs also seek to answer the more overarching research question: Is the implementation of the designs sufficient to move schools from graduating half or fewer of their incoming freshmen to gradu- ating nearly all, while preparing them well for postsecondary education or high-quality employment? This question has yet to be answered. In brief, extant evidence suggests that effective implementation of the school reform models included in this chapter does improve some indica- tors of student engagement and learning. Whether these models can achieve the ambitious goal of improving high school education on a large scale is yet to be seen. HOW TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE: THE PROCESS No two models look alike with regard to what consumers and investors should expect in the planning and implementation process, including what roles various stakeholders (people who are affected by the reform) play in providing supports and pressure to meet expectations. Documentation of these processes is not as thorough or reliable as descriptions of the designs' key features and general implementation goals. Furthermore, conclusive research evidence does not yet exist indicating that one approach leads to deeper and more sustained implementation of reform in high schools than another approach. To organize some information on how these reform models work with high schools, we list guiding questions about the change process itself and examples of how reform models diverge in their answers. 1. What kind of buy-in does the mode! seek before committing to work with ~ high school, and how does the model's organization work with the school to build commitment to the reform by all stakeholders? Some reform models require that staff at the school level vote to adopt the design before initiating a partnership. Other models discourage votes in advance, instead encouraging district leaders (including the board and the superintendent), community leaders, and leaders at the school level (includ- ing administrators, teachers, students, and sometimes parents) to decide whether the reform design is the best vehicle to meet their goals. The staff employed by the design mode! program (design staff) then join with these leaders to develop school staff and other stakeholders' commitment to the design through the planning and implementation process. Designs converge on strategies for building buy-in once the design is selected. Most designs engage staff, students, and parents in study and discussion. They use examples of how the design features have been imple- mented in other schools and involve stakeholders in shaping local decisions. 2. What, if any, are the nonnegotiable requirements or fix Ed expecta- tions that the design staff bring into their relationship with school and district personnel?
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COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL REFORM DESIGNS 197 At a minimum, most reform models share the goal of increasing all students' achievement to levels needed for postsecondary education and high-quality employment. Most of the models expect all school staff to participate in study and discussion of the design features and implementa- tion strategies. Beyond these shared expectations, however, models vary greatly in what prospective high school and district administrators are expected to sign up for in advance. Examples of nonnegotiables, taken from various models, include do; cedures; ˇ committing to a set of general principles about what good schools ˇ implementing a specific curriculum; ˇ adopting specific assessment practices and student certification pro- ˇ ensuring that all students have access to high-level academic courses; ˇ forming thematic small learning communities; and ˇ selecting from or creating a variety of school structures to promote . . persona" Cation. Differences in what is and is not negotiable weigh heavily in schools' and school districts' decisions on whether to adopt one of these designs and which one to adopt. Some districts value the clarity, credibility, and ac- countability they purchase with the adoption of a design that sets out in advance both the key features and the acceptable pathways to implement- ing these features. Other districts and schools are concerned that if major decisions about the key features or the implementation strategies do not reside at the building or the small community level, there will not be suffi- cient buy-in to sustain the reform over rough patches. 3. How does the reform design use data of various forms to initiate, inform, monitor, refine, and sustain the reform process? All of the reform models make legitimate claims to being research based in the sense that their design features are consistent with research on best practices. However, use of data available from participating districts and schools and the requirements for new data to be collected as part of the reform process vary considerably. For example, data on student perfor- mance are used in some designs to give teachers and administrators a sense of urgency about initiating and sustaining reform, to inform instructional decisions, and to strengthen collective responsibility for student outcomes. Extensive data are collected by some designs on current instructional prac- tices, school climate, and student and teacher attitudes and beliefs. These designs use these data for a variety of purposes, including guiding the selection of implementation strategies, assessing and improving the fidelity
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200 ENGAGING SCHOOLS ˇ district organizational structures where principals and other admin- istrative positions responsible for improving teaching and learning in schools (e.g., curriculum specialists, special education coordinators, instructional coaches) report to different supervisors in the central office; ˇ evaluation polices for principals and other central office staff that focus on compliance issues more than contributions to instructional im- provements at the classroom level; ˇ resistance from many quarters (teachers, parents, students, elected board officials) to changing long-standing policies that preserve enriched opportunities (lower class sizes, more experienced and well-trained teach- ers) for small minorities of typically high-performing students and more comfortable teaching assignments for more senior faculty; and ˇ difficulties in reallocation of positions at the building level to meet the needs of their reform effort (e.g., trading in administrative positions for additional teaching positions to lower student-adult ratios). What is clear from this brief summary of the implementation ap- proaches is that similarity in goals does not translate into similarity in the change processes employed by models. Some amount of flexibility always will be required in comprehensive school reform models because resources, expertise, the student body, and many other variables need to be considered when implementing a mode! in a particular school. However, as we move now to our summary and concluding comments on scaling up high school reform, we will reintroduce the need for greater clarity in what high schools need to do in order to engage their diverse student populations (see also Connell, 20021. Lessons Learned Little research has been conducted on the change process underlying comprehensive school reform implementation in high schools. Much of the research that does exist blends high school data with middle school and elementary school data (e.g., Berends et al., 2001; Berends, Bodilly et al., 2002; Kirby et al., 2001), looks at a small number of high schools (five or fewer) for a mode! (e.g., Stringfield et al., 1997), or has information only on initial implementation of the mode! (Cornell, 2002; Gambone, Klem, and Connell, 20021. Despite these limitations, certain factors emerge as fostering higher quality implementation, including: 1. High levels of support and commitment on the part of the teachers once implementation of the reform is under way (Berends et al., 2001; Berends, Bodilly et al., 2002; Kirby et al., 2001, Stringfield et al., 19971.
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COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL REFORM DESIGNS 201 2. Clear communication between mode! developers and schools: Mod- els need to effectively communicate the requirements of the design and not make major revisions to the design mid-course (Berends et al., 2001; Berends, Bodilly et al., 2002; Connell, 2002; Kirby et al., 2001~. 3. Effective training: ˇ consistent training that meets the needs of the teachers as they make radical changes to the way they do business (Berends et al., 2001; Berends, Bodilly et al., 2002; Kirby et al., 2001~; ˇ ongoing follow-up training (Stringfield et al., 19971; and ˇ training for new, incoming teachers (due to high staff mobility; Stringfield et al., 19971. ment efforts; . . 4. Strong principal leadership (Berends et al., 2001; Berends, Bodilly et al., 2002; Connell, 2002; Kirby et al., 2001; Stringfield et al., 19971. 5. Few competing demands on time from other reform projects by . . . . . . . . Incorporating existing projects Into t" He c edge moc e" or removing t" rem (Berends et al., 2001; Berends, Bodilly et al., 2002; Connell, 2002; Kirby et al., 2001~. 6. Supportive district with effective leadership that: ˇ backs the reform and makes the reform central to its improve- ˇ crecr~cates resources to the implementation; ˇ creates rules and regulations that support the initiative and re- moves rules that hinder implementation; ˇ 1 . 1 1 1 ˇ . 1 ˇ provides the school with autonomy to do what it takes to get the reform in place; ˇ implements assessment systems that are compatible with those of the design; ˇ develops a working relationship among school, district, and union staff; and ˇ has district-level accountability (Berends et al., 2001; Berends, Bodilly et al., 2002; Connell, 2002; Gambone et al., 2002; Kirby et al., 2001; Stringfield et al., 19971. 7. Schools that focus on making changes to classroom instruction in order to improve teaching and learning (Cornell, 2002; Stringfield et al., 19971. SCALING UP HIGH SCHOOL REFORM: PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES In this chapter, we have attempted to examine (but not advocate for) a number of comprehensive reform designs now being implemented in urban
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202 ENGAGING SCHOOLS high schools. Rather than pitting them against one another, we have exam- ined them as a group and extracted important commonalities and differ- ences among them. We found remarkable similarities in the comprehensive school reform models that met our criteria in their commitment to some of the key features identified in the research reviewed for this volume. The evidence reviewed for this report suggests that getting these key features, regardless of the design vehicle, should have positive effects on student engagement and learning. Documentation of the models' approaches to the change process itself is very uneven, making systematic study of their different approaches prob- lematic. What can be said is that despite the similarities in their basic tenets, there is profound variation among the reform models in the ways they work with schools to get schools moving toward these common goals. As discussed earlier, we do not yet know whether implementation of these designs is sufficient to achieve meaningful long-term results at the school or district level, such as having 75 percent of a nonselective urban high school's students graduate and perform at levels required for post- secondary education and high-quality employment. Extant research falls far short of identifying the necessary and sufficient conditions to do so. Scaling up meaningful reform going from one school to many in a system as complex as public education requires confronting and addressing a significant set of challenges: diversity within the system of schools and districts and the populations they serve; the multiple levels of financial and political influence on the system; and the "forces of inertia" discrimina- tion (by race and class), lack of accountability, and inadequate and outdated professional training that keep in place the current resource inequities and demonstrably ineffective policies and practices. Whereas the "what" of high school reform is becoming clear, the "how" particularly how to go to scale remains conjecture at this point. Some progress on the "process" issue has been made at the school level; creating new small schools and restructuring large high schools both show promise as starting points for getting these key features on the ground. The more daunting challenges lurk at the district, state, and national levels, where hundreds, if not thousands, of high schools need major overhauls in their structures and instructional practices. We see high school reform at a crossroads of opportunity and peril. Opportunity comes in two forms: investments and knowledge. Between the U.S. Department of Education and private foundation initiatives, some dollars are available, at least in the near term, to support work toward improved outcomes for secondary students. Knowledge is also becoming available. This volume and other recent publications and emerging evalua- tion reports from the Department of Education's research and development grants on secondary reform provide solid information about what high
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COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL REFORM DESIGNS 203 school reform should look like the conditions that, if put in place, could really make a difference and some insights into how to do it (see, for example, Institute for Research and Reform in Education, 2002; Lee and Smith, 2001; Legters, Balfanz, and McPartiand, 2002; Moinar, 20021. Even with these opportunities, going to scale with knowledge-based and meaningful high school reform will require additional resources, con- tinuous learning about the necessary and sufficient conditions for the change that needs to occur and how it happens, and time for the reforms to be implemented and studied. We can create the conditions to meet these needs only with additional public and political will and more cohesion within the field itself. We face peril on both fronts. Public will is waning for any but the most simplistic approaches to "fixing" our poorly performing high schools. From reconstitution and state takeovers to privatization and radical voucher systems, citizens and elected officials are looking for silver bullets and unrealistically fast results. Other fixes to the current system have been proposed as well. Some policy makers believe (or hope) a focus on early and elementary education, specifically in the area of literacy, will steel children and youth against the corrosive effects of large, impersonal, and low-expectation secondary schools. Others believe that standards, testing, and external accountability will bring high schools around to working for all students. Unfortunately, these expectations run counter to existing research and the experience of reform efforts now underway. Bad secondary schools can undo the best early education and elementary school experience, and high- stakes, repeated testing against high standards in and of itself guarantees only that more students will fail. What is to be done? At the district, state, and federal levels, expecta- tions and supports around several key issues need to be aligned and imple- mented. First, to scale up high school reform, agreement is needed at the federal, state, and local levels on what change needs to occur. For example, at all levels there must be agreement that all students should leave high school above a well-defined and shared threshold level of academic performance, and that high schools in these communities will implement the features identified in this volume to get there. Second, we need common indicators of what these reforms will look like when achieved in diverse settings and how good is good enough on these indicators. The indicators would need to include acceptable measures of student performance rather than the simplistic measures most states are now using, and there would need to be some assurance that students achiev- ing these thresholds would have equitable access to quality employment and postsecondary education. Measures of how well and how broadly the four key features of engaging high schools are being implemented, and
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204 ENGAGING SCHOOLS threshold levels of how good is good enough on these measures also would need to be developed and accepted at all levels. Third, a clear conception of how change is to be implemented is needed. This conception of the process of change will need to have multiple levels and include school, district, state, and federal mechanisms for motivating and initiating reform, for getting through planning and initial implementa- tion, and for sustaining and deepening implementation. Fourth, this conception of the change process needs to specify what resources (human, economic, and political) are needed to implement changes and how those resources will be provided. Fifth, a timeline is needed that includes the scale-up gradient and speci- fies which schools, how many, and when. The timeline also should spell out when interim and long-term outcomes are expected for each school, dis- trict, and state as well as across the nation. Sixth, a public and visible accountability plan needs to be tied to this resource map and timeline. It should specify who is responsible for reallo- cating and providing those resources and for achieving these interim and long-term outcomes, and it should explain the consequences of not doing so for all involved. Seventh, there need to be mechanisms for examining progress on the indicators of change, and results should be made public to promote ac- countability. Indicators should be used to finetune implementation strate- gies along the way. Finally, resources need to be made available to allow the kinds of comprehensive changes that will result in real improvements in student engagement and learning. Money is not the answer, but low-budget efforts to improve schools have taught us that, to some degree, "you get what you pay for." Support is needed for both start-up costs and for sustaining constructive changes (see King, 19941. This is an ambitious list of prerequisites, and it is probably not com- plete. But if engaging high schools are to become the rule rather than the exception in economically disadvantaged communities, the American pub- kc and policy makers at the federal, state, and district levels must tackle this issue comprehensively and with the kind of seriousness this list indicates.
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COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL REFORM DESIGNS ANNEX TO CHAPTER 8 BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF 12 COMPREHENSIVE REFORM INITIATIVES AMERICA'S CHOICE http://www.ncee.org/OurPrograms/narePage.htm! 205 The America's Choice Comprehensive Design Network (begun in 1989 as the National Alliance for Restructuring Education and in its current incarnation as of 1992) is a program of the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington, D.C. America's Choice offers an aligned system of standards, assessments, and curriculum. The America's Choice performance standards complement and extend the content standards that the states and many districts have developed. The design includes a strategy for quickly identifying students who are falling behind and bringing them back to standard, as well as a planning and management system for making the most efficient use of available resources to raise student performance quickly. The expectation is that all but the most severely handicapped students will achieve standards in English language arts, math, and science in order to graduate from high school qualified to do college-level work without remediation. America's Choice is a New American Schools design and is currently being implemented in 31 high schools. ATLAS COMMUNITIES http://www.edc.org/FSC/ATLAS The ATLAS Communities approach (Authentic Teaching, Learning, and Assessment for All Students) was formed in 1992 as a partnership of four school reform organizations: the Education Development Center in Boston, the Coalition of Essential Schools at Brown University, Project Zero at Harvard University, and the School Development Program at Yale University. According to the developers, ATLAS builds on a base of re- search and examined practice drawn from each of the sponsoring organiza- tions. Specifically, the approach draws on essential questions and student exhibitions from the Coalition of Essential Schools; professional develop- ment and curriculum development from the Education Development Cen- ter; multiple intelligences, authentic assessment, and Teaching for Under- standing from Project Zero; and family involvement, school climate, and management and decision making from the School Development Program. A unique feature of ATLAS is the pre-K to 12 "pathway." The "pathway" refers to feeder patterns of elementary, middle, and high schools, which the approach seeks to coordinate to produce a coherent educational program for each student, from the first day of school through graduation. ATLAS is
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206 ENGAGING SCHOOLS a New American Schools design and is currently being implemented in 18 high schools. COALITION OF ESSENTIAL SCHOOLS http://www.essentialschools.org The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) was developed in 1984 by Theodore Sizer at Brown University. CES is founded on the Ten Common Principles that guide structural, curricular, pedagogical, and assessment- related change. CES includes a focus on personalized learning, mastery of a few subjects and skills, graduation by exhibition, and creation of a nurtur- ing community. CES is a grassroots reform movement that emphasizes local control and autonomy in interpreting the Common Principles within the cultural and institutional context of each school. Each school's plan is unique, sharing the Ten Common Principles, but actualizing them in ways suited to their school. The approach of the Coalition is to provide staff development assistance to school faculties as they seek to design methods of implementing the principles and to facilitate exchanges among Coalition schools so that teachers may act as "critical friends" to one another as they seek to change their schools. CES is currently being implemented in more than 400 high schools. COMMUNITY FOR LEARNING http://www.temple.edu/LSS/cfI.htm Community for Learning (CFL) was developed at the Temple Univer- sity Center for Research in Human Development and Education (CRHDE) by CRHDE Director Dr. Margaret C. Wang in 1990. The mode! is designed to draw communities and schools together to bolster student achievement. Collaboration at all levels is a key goal of CFL. Students learn in a variety of environments, including libraries, museums, houses of worship, higher education institutions, workplaces, and their own homes. CFL links the school to these and other institutions, including health, social services, and law enforcement agencies. The idea is to provide a range of learning oppor- tunities for students, coordinate service delivery across organizations, and foster a communitywide commitment to student success. The emphasis on collaboration extends into the classroom itself, where regular teachers and specialists (such as special education teachers, Title I teachers, and school psychologists) work in teams to meet the diverse academic and social needs of all children. CFL is currently being implemented in 6 high schools, though it has been implemented in as many as 11 high schools at one time.
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COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL REFORM DESIGNS CO-NECT http ://www. co-nect. cam 207 Co-NECT was founded in 1992 by members of the Educational Tech- nologies Group at the BBN Corporation. Co-NECT is a schoolwide ap- proach that focuses on improving achievement by integrating technology into instruction, organizing lessons around interdisciplinary projects, and reorganizing schools into multigrade clusters of students and teachers. At the core of the Co-NECT design are five benchmarks: shared accountability for results, project-based learning, teaching for understanding and accom- plishment, comprehensive assessment for continuous improvement, team- based school organization, and sensible use of technology. (Q: Six bench- marks listed, not five.) The benchmarks help schools evaluate their progress toward meeting the vision of success outlined in their action plan. Co- NECT also offers a set of assessment tools rubrics for judging progress within these benchmarks. Co-NECT encourages and supports extensive use of the Internet and other modern technologies to support student learn- ing, supplement training, and strengthen communication across schools in the network. Co-NECT is a New American Schools design. Information on the number of high schools currently implementing the mode! is not avail- able. EDISON SCHOOLS http://www.edisonschools.com The Edison Schools design was founded in 1992 as the Edison Project by a for-profit company and began operating in schools in 1995. Edison Schools remain public and are funded by taxpayer dollars after entering into agreements with superintendents and school boards. The local commu- nity can terminate the contract if student performance does not meet the terms stated in the contract. According to Edison, the company invests $1.5 million of private capital in a school before it opens. These dollars are earmarked for technology, instructional materials, and professional devel- opment. Edison takes responsibility for the day-to-day operation of a school; lengthens the school year by 25 days and the school day by 1 to 2 hours; helps reorganize schools into academies, houses, and teams; provides all Edison teachers with laptops and students in grades 3 and up with home computers; provides a strong liberal arts curriculum guided by high stan- dards; aligns instruction with assessment; and requires students to stay with the same teacher for 3 years. Edison is currently being implemented in approximately 10 high schools.
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208 ENGAGING SCHOOLS EXPEDITIONARY LEARNING/OUTWARD BOUND http://www.elob.org Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) was established in 1992 as part of the New American Schools network of comprehensive school designs. It is based on two central precepts: students learn better by doing than by listening, and developing character, high expectations, and a sense of community is as important as developing academic skills and knowledge. In ELOB, learning expeditions are at the center of teaching and learning. Learning expeditions are long-term, in-depth investigations of a theme or topic. Students investigate these subject areas through challenging projects that integrate state and local standards. A typical learning expedi- tion takes most of the school day and lasts 8 to 12 weeks or more. Expedi- tions involve academic work, adventure, and fieldwork. Students complete the expedition with a performance or presentation to an audience. Students in ELOB schools stay with the same teacher for 2 years or more. Schools use the Expeditionary Learning benchmarks to conduct an annual self- review of the school's progress and a periodic peer review from colleagues outside the school. ELOB is currently being implemented in 35 high schools. FIRST THINGS FIRST http://www.irre.org First Things First (FTF) was developed by the Institute for Research and Reform in Education and first implemented in 1996. First Things First provides a clear but flexible framework for reform that districts and schools can adapt to their specific needs. Using the FTF framework, schools and districts focus on three goals: strengthening relationships among students and adults; improving teaching and learning; and reallocating budget, staff, and time to achieve the first two goals. Schools reorganize into small learn- ing communities, create a family advocate system to involve families in supporting student success, and improve instruction through staff develop- ment focused on implementing high-quality, standards-based learning ac- tivities in every classroom. FTF emphasizes small learning communities as the hub of relationship building, collective responsibility for student out- comes, resource allocation, and professional development activities. Schools and districts are supported to align instruction and curriculum with their standards and use multiple assessment strategies to assess those standards, including those aligned with high-stakes tests. Collective responsibility among students, families, and staff for student success is a fundamental premise of FTF. Over time, schools implementing FTF are expected to prepare all students for success in postsecondary education and high-qual- ity employment. FTF is currently being implemented in 14 high schools.
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COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL REFORM DESIGNS HIGH SCHOOLS THAT WORK http://www.sreb.org/programs/hstw/hstwindex.asp 209 High Schools That Work (HSTW) began in 1988 as a pilot project of the Southern Regional Education Board's Vocational Education Consor- tium. HSTW is designed to raise the achievement level of career-bound high school students by combining the content of traditional college preparatory studies (e.g., English, mathematics, and science) with vocational studies. It is based on the beliefs that (1) an intellectually challenging curriculum should be taught to all high school students, and (2) students understand and retain academic concepts more readily if they use them in completing projects for their vocational courses. The design provides intensive techni- cal assistance, focused staff development, and a nationally recognized yard- stick for measuring program effectiveness. HSTW sets high expectations, identifies a recommended curriculum to meet the expectations, and sets student performance goals benchmarked to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. HSTW is currently being implemented in more than 1,000 high schools. MODERN RED SCHOOLHOUSE http://www.mrsh.org Modern Red Schoolhouse, a New American Schools design, was devel- oped in 1992 by the Hudson Institute, a private nonprofit research organi- zation. William T. Bennett, Secretary of Education during the Reagan Ad- ministration, was chairman of the design team at Hudson. The design has since become the Modern Red Schoolhouse Institute, a separate nonprofit organization. Implementation of the design began in 1993. The primary goal of the Modern Red Schoolhouse design is to take the rigorous curricu- lum, values, and democratic principle commonly associated with "the little red schoolhouse," and combine them with the latest advancements in teach- ing and learning, supported by modern technology. The approach intends to help schools set high academic standards that are consistent with district and state assessments and cover rigorous core content. Schools are expected to assume increasing responsibility for many items that are traditionally controlled by the district (e.g., budgeting, personnel assignments, curricu- lum details, scheduling, teacher/student ratios, and time allotted to various subjects). Modern Red Schoolhouse schools use an instructional manage- ment system that both tracks student performance and progress and offers continuous reflection on and improvement to the curriculum. Modern Red Schoolhouse is currently being implemented in 20 high schools.
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210 ENGAGING SCHOOLS PAIDEIA http://www.paideia.org Mortimer Adler outlined the Paideia approach in his 1984 book, Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto. The National Paideia Center, housed at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, supports the efforts of educators implementing the Paideia Program through networks, staff development, a newsletter, and other publications. The goal of the Paideia Program is to provide a rigorous liberal arts education in grades K through 12 that will allow all graduates to have the skills needed to earn a living, to think and act critically as responsible citizens, and to continue educating themselves as lifelong learners. Instructional goals are based on acquisition of knowledge, development of intellectual skills, and enlarged understanding of ideas and values. These are addressed through three in- structional approaches: didactic instruction, coaching, and small group seminars. Schoolwide restructuring is necessary to fully implement all three instructional pieces, as Socratic seminars often require longer class periods (up to 2 hours), while coaching may call for smaller classes enabling teach- ers to spend more time with individuals. Paideia is currently being imple- mented in 10 high schools. TALENT DEVELOPMENT HIGH SCHOOL WITH CAREER ACADEMIES http://www.csos. jhu.edu/Talent/high.htm The Talent Development High School (TDHS) was first implemented in 1994 as a partnership between the Johns Hopkins University Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR) and Patterson High School in Baltimore, Maryland. The goal of TDHS is to improve indicators of student achievement and behavior by raising expecta- tions for all students and providing the mechanisms to help them meet those expectations. The mode! is composed of separate Career Academies for grades 10 through 12 and a Ninth Grade Success Academy. Career Academies are thematic, self-contained "small learning communities" or "schools-within-a-school" that integrate career and academic coursework. The Talent Development High School mode! asserts that all students can learn in demanding, high-expectation academic settings. Essential compo- nents of the mode! include a demanding common core curriculum based on high standards for all students, a supportive learning environment to en- courage close teacher-student relations and an orderly academic climate, career-focused schoolwork, a college-bound orientation, no tracking, and flexible uses of time and resources. TDHS is currently being implemented in 39 high schools.
Representative terms from entire chapter: