December 11, 2004

Changing High School

Because high schools have been so resistant to change, educational choices have expanded enormously. Why can't high schools change? A provocative essay, "The Blind Men and the High School" descibes six strategies to change school. Each states a strategy, problem definition and theory of action. Here is one of the stategies as an example:

Strategy: Devise new institutional forms for secondary education: "Early college" high schools, small high schools, schools-within-schools, charter schools, "KIPP" high schools, virtual high schools. Much has been said and done on this front, and the innovations take many shapes, as do the choice schemes whereby young people and their parents can access the version that works best for them.

Problem definition: The circa-1950s, one-size-fits-all, "comprehensive high school" is dysfunctional and off-putting for many, besides being an inefficient, out-moded vehicle for teaching them what they need to learn.

Theory of action: Create new options for delivering and receiving secondary education, using technology, modern organizational theory, out-sourcing and the like, then give young people choices.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:29 PM

November 02, 2004

High School: Crisis or Possibility

A new report, Crisis or Possibility Conversations about the American High School (downloadable) by James Harvey and Naomi Housman for the National High School Alliance began with the assumption that something needed to be done. Some 40 organizations participate in the Alliance for this important and well-funded study about the need to "reinvent the American high school." Read the executive summary for the key information. This is the latest item about the need for learning alternatives!

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:17 AM

November 28, 2003

Schools within Schools

A long standing practice to provide choices is the practice of creating schools within an existing school. For example, a large high school might have several subunits that serve as alternatives for students and staff. The Gates Foundation funds a large number of projects to carve large schools into smaller units, for example $55 million for Texas schools. A recent study by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education examines this movement in Cincinnati and Philadelphia for its effect on school culture, instruction and student performance.

For the most authoritative coverage of schools within schools, see Educational Alternatives for Everyone by Don Glines, specifically chapter 18. Don has been the voice for how schools can change for 40 years. Check him out!


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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:41 AM