The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration’s Network for College Success maintains a free, searchable database of tools designed to aid educators in their quest to redesign their schools & keep students on track for graduation and beyond. Read more. . .
The XQ Expert Series is a series of conversations with transformational educational leaders about how they are incorporating youth voice and working alongside students to create meaningful learning experiences. The series includes inspiring examples, stories, and lessons from across the country.
The “Organizing Adults” section on the “What the Evidence Says” page examines evidence and a research base that supports core principles to consider when redesigning high school staffing and how to most effectively deploy the adults in your building, like teaming and leadership structures, basically how to facilitate strong relationships between adults and students.
The people in the school building are the most important resource to consider both in terms of how they work together and the outcomes and impact of your redesign efforts. If the people – teachers, partners, administrators, AND students – are more satisfied, more productive, more supported, more connected and more engaged, then the evidence says that the conditions have been created where academic outcomes will flourish. The critical concept is thinking about how to make the support and advancement of students the fundamental responsibility of everyone in the building and how structures that organize adults can support this work’s acceleration.
Multi-media resources available online and to download.
The Six Core Principles of Improvement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Click to download (PDF)
Trends and Issues in High School Scheduling is a look at the history of high school scheduling, analyze and compare most common high school scheduling formats, evaluates the infrastructure of the school scheduling process and much more in this in-depth presentation
Download the Presentation (PDF)
Schools as Organizations from the Research Alliance for New York City Schools examines school cliamte, teacher turnover, and student achievement in New York City.
Download the Brief (PDF)
Relational Trust in Schools from EL Education reviews the definition, critical attributes, and conditions of relational trust.
Download the Report (PDF)
Understanding the Human Side of School Leadership: Principals’ Impact on Teachers’ Morale, Self-Efficacy, Stress, and Commitment This qualitative study from Ontario, Canada, reveals that principal behaviors shape teacher emotions in important ways, influencing teacher morale, burnout, stress, commitment, and self and collective efficacy.
Download the Report (PDF)
Opportunity Culture an “opportunity culture” extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within recurring budgets. Visit the website.
Implementing School-Based Teams
Implementing School-Based Teams Effective school-based teams are the anchors of successful on-track initiatives. In this toolkit, you will find tools to support accountable adult collaboration focused on improving student outcomes. The toolkit contains four tool sets.
Tool Set A: Facilitating Effective Adult Collaboration and Conversation
A focus on effective adult collaboration moves teams toward becoming accountable communities that are able to address issues with a problem-solving approach rather than trying to ignore or minimize them. Click to Explore Tool Set A
Tool Set B: Facilitating Data-Driven Conversations
Data-driven conversations require careful facilitation to ensure a safe and supportive environment wherein educators take ownership of their outcomes. Click to Explore Tool Set B
Tool Set C: Engaging Students in On-Track Conversations
Success Teams are responsible for creating multiple opportunities to engage students in On-Track conversations. Click to Explore Tool Set C
Seven Norms of Collaboration: A Supporting Toolkit
This toolkit from the Thinking Collaborative is designed to provide resources for developing and sustaining productive group interaction through the practice of “Seven Norms of Collaboration.” Consistent use of these norms enhances the quality and productivity of all forms of conversation in any group.
SRI Structured Protocols
SRI’s tools include protocols that offer structured processes to support focused and productive conversations, build collective understanding, and drive school improvement. Thoughtful use of these protocols is an integral part of building resilient professional learning communities.
Teaching Together for Change
Teaching Together for Change is an excellent resource for teams, the School Reform Initiative tools include protocols that offer structured processes to support focused and productive conversations, build collective understanding, and drive school improvement. Thoughtful use of these protocols is an integral part of building resilient professional learning communities.
Building Trusting Relationships for School Improvement
This booklet examines the issue of trust within the context of school improvement, looking specifically at teacherteacher and teacher-principal relationships. Drawing on existing research as well as the experiences of individual schools, we offer a summary of current literature, discuss common roadblocks to trust-building, and identify specific steps that educators can take to increase the level of trust in their schools.
Examples of Actions Taken by Principals Trying to Lead Turnaround
Peer Coaching that Works: The Power of Reflection and Feedback in Teacher Triad Teams
Design and Data in Balance: Using Data-Driven Decision Making to Enable Student Success
Opportunity by Design: New High School Models for Student Success
Leading Indicators of School Turnarounds: How to Know When Dramatic Change is On Track
School Turnaround Leaders: Competencies for Success
- More on Instructional Leadership, the Heart of a Successful School Turnaround
- Free “Opportunity Culture” Tools
- Competencies Aligned with Career Paths for Teachers, Teacher-Leaders, and Principals
Coaching & Developing Turnaround Leader Actions: Facilitator’s Guide
See it in Action!
Freshman Academy With almost 2,000 students, Bloomfield High School is a suburban Newark high school urban in demographics and small-town-like in culture. As the demographics and state accountability measures changed, it became apparent that the way to improve graduation rates was to start before students were enrolled. According to the principal, “The most important people at Bloomfield High School are now the ninth-grade students and teachers.” The teacher-designed freshman program with its summer orientation, team structure, and common planning time is credited with reducing student failures by 50 percent and significantly improving academic achievement.
Students who complete Summer School will earn one-half (.5) of a credit toward high school graduation. Credit is granted after the successful completion of one semester at a Phoenix Union High School District school. Students receive a free breakfast and lunch. Free bus cards are available for any student that lives 1.5 miles or farther from the summer school site.
This one-minute video demonstrates how Phoenix Union High School provides transition supports in a summer Freshman Academy.
Dr. Robert Balfanz
Teacher Teams is a six-minute audiocast cohosted by Dr. Robert Balfanz, Director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University and Linda Muskauski, Knowledge Development Director at the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. The pair discuss how teacher teams serve as the building blocks for high school redesign initiatives. Listen to the Audiocast.
Staffing for Student-Centered Learning
Betsy Arons, Geneviève DeBose, Hillary Salmons, and Michele Cahill answer questions and discuss ways to find and retain the best talent for your school. Featuring: Betsy Arons CEO of Urban Schools Human Capital Academy Geneviève DeBose National Board Certified Teacher and Commissioner of National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future Hillary Salmons Executive Director of Providence After School Alliance.
Video: Freshman Academy at Revere High School
See how Revere High School, located just outside Boston, MA, is addressing academic achievement and cultivating school culture by focusing on the 9th-grade year. Read more. . .
Video Series: Early Warning Systems
The Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education produced an eight-part Early Warning Systems video training series in partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department, and the High Plains Regional Education Cooperative.
This in-depth series, begins with an overview of Early Warning Systems then continues to examine building a data culture, linking indicators to a tiered inteventions system, planning for schools and districts, how to get an EWS started including how to introduce school staff and faculty to the system, intervention review and data gap analysis and much more. Visit the video series home page.
Students at the Center
When beginning a redesign, one essential item is to consider how to keep students at the center of their educational experiences. Student apathy, lack of motivation, and behavior are factors underlying teacher stress and burnout. The longer students stay in school, the less hopeful they become regarding their educational experiences. This has resulted in higher rates of student and teacher absenteeism, higher rates of student suspension and less learning ultimately.
A shift that places students at the center can occur when redesigning schools, which aligns students’ interest with teachers and administrators desired outcomes.
The evidence-based suggestions offered here examine how to produce a change of ideas and practices within schools to align students’ interest with teachers and administrators desired outcomes. It also explores the importance of listening, valuing and implementing student voice in the decision-making process to achieve successful outcomes for all students. Underscored is the importance of developing agency with students and the balancing act that is needed to help foster agency within students.
Integrated Social, Emotional, and Academic Development
This action guide provides school leadership teams with a resource for integrating the social, emotional and academic needs of young people into the daily student experience, from the time a bus driver greets a student until the end of the day. It supports the school leader and her/his team in mapping out an approach for integrating the social, emotional, and academic needs of students into the way adults and students experience school each moment of each school day.
District Online Resource Center
CASEL and its collaborators developed The District Resource Center website to share learnings about systemic SEL implementation, including learnings, resources, tools, and artifacts curated from CDI districts. The website enables district leaders and educators around the country to access information about how these districts approached the work and overcame challenges, highlighting the successes they’ve achieved. Visit The District Resource Center
Don’t know where to start? Use DRC’s Priority Setting Questionnaire to reflect on your current SEL approach.
Using CASEL’s District Framework, you will be guided through an assessment of your current implementation status to help identify which areas are of highest priority for future focus. Begin the Priority Setting Questionnaire.
Efforts to improve child and adolescent health typically have featured interventions designed to address specific health risk behaviors, such as tobacco use, alcohol and drug use, violence, gang involvement, and early sexual initiation. However, results from a growing number of studies suggest that greater health impact might be achieved by also enhancing protective factors that help children and adolescents avoid multiple behaviors that place them at risk for adverse health and educational outcomes. Enhancing protective factors also might buffer children and adolescents from the potentially harmful effects of negative situations and events, such exposure to violence.
Freshman On-Track Toolkit
Freshman On-Track Toolkit prepared by the Network for College Success at the University of Chicago, the NCS Freshman On-Track Toolkit is a collection of protocols, reports, resources, and artifacts used by our experienced Coaches in their daily work to help schools better support students through the critical first year of high school.
Beyond the Indicators: An Integrated School-Level Approach to Dropout Prevention
Overcoming the Poverty challenge to Enable College and Career Readiness for All
Designing New School Models, A Practical Guide
Educational Experiences that Matter to Seniors
Reasons for Chronic Absenteeism Among Secondary Students
Integrating Social, Emotional, and Academic Development is an action guide provides school leadership teams with a resource for integrating the social, emotional and academic needs of young people into the daily student experience, from the time a bus driver greets a student until the end of the day. It supports the school leader and her/his team in mapping out an approach for integrating the social, emotional, and academic needs of students into the way adults and students experience school each moment of each school day.
See it in Action!
Austin Independent School District (AISD) has succeeded in developing a model for systemic social and emotional learning (SEL) for all of its 83,600 students that focuses on explicit skills instruction, SEL integration, school climate and culture, and family and community engagement. SEL coaches funded by local and federal sources are deployed throughout the system. AISD’s SEL strategic plan, first approved in 2011 and revised for 2015-2020, drives SEL implementation. Using a vertical structure, Austin started with two high schools and their feeder schools. As of 2015-16, all 130 schools in the district are implementing SEL.
Video: Students’ Voices/Students’ Visions
Students’ Voices/Students’ Visions is a ten-minute video featuring urban high school students from Baltimore, MD dicussing four topics:
- School Design
- School & Community
- Business & Wealth
Video: Report Card Conferences
Report Card Conferences are held between students and non-school affiliated adults. Caring adults, which are typically caring adults from the community, review a student’s report card along with their Attendance, Behavior, and Course Performance. RCCs give students the opportunity to speak with caring adults who reinforce the value of success in school and encourage them to get help when experiencing difficulty.
Video: Redesigning Student Support Systems
Redesigning Student Support Systems is a six-minute video which examines how high schools can redesign their student support systems using the A-B-Cs of Attendance, Behavior and Course Performance.
Video: The Education of Omarina
PBS’s program Frontline featured a story on Omarina. The video follows Omarina over a six year period and how an innovative program to stem the high school dropout rate affected her life’s journey.
Student Agency & Engagement
Michele Cahill hosts a discussion with experts about how to co-create learning experiences with young people. Featuring: Travis Bristol, Research and Policy Fellow at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education; Zak Malamed, Founder and Executive Director of Student Voice; Eliza Jane Schaeffer, Senior at Henry Clay High School.
Teaching & Learning
The “What the Evidence Says” page of the Teaching and Learning Section provides a learning sciences, research-based guide to teaching and learning practices.
The “How to Section” introduces models and approaches to support implementation of selected practices at your school or your district.
Implementing evidence-based practices is a human endeavor and an ongoing process. It requires continuous self-reflection on the ways we teach and on the use of students’ work as indicators to determine the success of meeting the needs of diverse learners.
The resources in the section include concise articles, successful teaching and learning experiences as well as applications that may be used by practitioners as reference to build up teaching, bring together evidence of effective teaching approaches while leveraging resourcefulness and proven classroom strategies and techniques to improve students and teachers’ learning. In addition, this section highlights proof points of learning as demonstrated by schools implementing specific practices or strategies
Creative Ways to Link School Curriculum to the World
Over 2,000 students participated in the New York Times’ second annual December challenge to “connect what you’re learning in school with the world today,” and, as you’ll see from the work of the winners, this year’s best were just as insightful and imaginative as last year’s.
Motivation & Engagement in Student Assignments
For students to thrive and achieve at high levels, they must be interested and emotionally invested in their learning. Why? Because motivation, or the desire that propels one to do something, leads to engagement, where students are being attentive to their tasks, putting forth positive effort, persisting through challenges, and advancing their ideas and understandings with a sense of intention.
Are Math Assignments Measuring Up?
Students can do no better than the assignments they’re given. That simple idea has been a driving force for The Education Trust’s practice work since its inception in the 1990s. And it animates a new generation of that work today, which involves analyzing classroom assignments in the context of more rigorous common standards and calling teachers to action. This kind of painstaking analysis of the daily academic experiences of students provides hugely important insights into what teachers know and understand about college- and career-ready standards — and what those teachers believe students
can do independently as a result of their teaching.
Educator Competencies for Personalized, Learner-Centered Teaching
Teacher Views and Voices
Supporting the Whole Teacher
Improving Academic Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students
Global Best Practices: An Internationally Benchmarked Self-Assessment Tool for Secondary Learning
The Challenge of Culture Change
American Institute for Research worked with four New Tech Network (NTN) high schools in three states for the 2018 study Maximizing Student Agency: Implementing and Measuring Student-Centered Learning Practices to determine which teacher practices help or hinder the development of student agency, and whether these practices are effective across educational contexts and with different student subgroups.
See it in Action!
Blended Learning—An innovative blended learning program at Huntley High School is breaking down the barriers of the traditional school day and leveraging technology to help students learn better. Blended Learning classes at Huntley High School Inspire, Challenge and Empower students to become self-motivated learners through both face to face and online instruction. HHS utilizes a Flex Learning Model of Blended Learning.
As a national pioneer of this increasingly popular approach, the District has been recognized in a national peer-reviewed journal, CNN, Parenting Magazine, the Pearson Education Blog, and other media. Visit HHS’s Website
Competency-based Learning—Virtual Learning Academy (VLACS) is a New Hampshire online virtual public middle school and high school. VLACS offers students the opportunity to learn at their own pace, full or part time with 20,000 course enrollments. Visit VLACS’s Website
Some information about the program includes:
- Learn through courses, projects, internships, travel, etc.
- Registration is on-going. Students can start any time.
- Certified teachers work to establish positive relationships with every student.
- Complete a middle school program, earn a high school diploma, or an associate degree.
- Learn at a pace that meets the individual student’s needs.
- Students are welcome from any state or country.
- Any New Hampshire student can attend tuition-free!
- Offering full-time and part time opportunities for middle and high school students.
ELL—Bronx International High School is a progressive, team-based and community-based school dedicated to serving the academic and social needs of recently immigrated young people and their families. BIHS’s mission is to enhance students’ cultural awareness, English and native language proficiencies, and intellectual and collaborative abilities. These skills will empower them to become active participants in today’s interdependent and diverse world. By critically analyzing and responding to complex world issues, students will achieve academic, personal, and professional success, as they become advocates for themselves and their communities.
Visit BIHS’s Website
Casco Bay High School for Expeditionary Learning (CBHS) is a small and rigorous public high school that reflects the increasing diversity of Portland, Maine. Founded in 2005, CBHS is a school of choice for just under 400 students. Casco Bay challenges and supports students to become college-ready through our 3Rs: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships. 98% of our graduates have been accepted to college. In 2017, CBHS was again named one of Maine’s top high schools by US News and World Report. CBHS is a credentialed school in the EL Education national network of schools, and one of the original “Mentor Schools.” In fall 2014, CBHS was named one of 20 “Deeper Learning” schools in the country and won the $100,000 Larry O’Toole Award from the Nellie Mae Foundation for advancing student-centered learning in New England.
Visit the CBHS Website.
Sanborn Regional High School is a leader in competency-based learning. Located in New Hampshire, SRHS features flexible learning time to personalize instruction and provide students with support for intervention, extension and enrichment. Sanborn Regional High School is committed to sustaining a positive environment which promotes respect, academic excellence, and pride by encouraging independent thinking within a culture of collaboration.
Download SRHS’s Core Values & Beliefs and Learning Expectations (PDF)
Visit the SRHS’s Website
Video: Does Early College for HS Kids Boost Graduations?
A PBS’s NEWSHOUR feature that examines a South Texas high school that integrates early college learning into the high school curriculum in an a multi-cultural environment of poverty, English as second language, differing education levels, etc.
Video: Introduction to Competency-Based Learning
Sandborn Regional High School produced a nine-minute video focusing on Competency-Based Learning.
Video: XQ Super School PSI High
PSI High is an immersive, full-time program located within Seminole High School where students work in an environment that looks like a high-tech office instead of a classroom. Rather than learn through traditional instruction, our students join teams with their peers and teachers to solve real community, business,
and social problems.
The guide, Design Your Personal Learning Plan, from Problem Solving Incubator High School in Seminole County Public Schools provides an example for creating an individualized learning plan that combines face to face classroom experiences, individual advisors and project- based learning experiences across the school campus and community.
Download the Guide (PDF)
Teaching & Learning
Michele Cahill hosts a discussion with experts on deeper learning. Featuring: Monica Martinez Appointee, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Derek Pierce Principal, Casco Bay High School Portland, ME Liliana Polo-McKenna Vice President, NYC Leadership Academy.
In the “What the Evidence Says” section on post-secondary pathways is evidence and a research-base that supports core principles to consider when redesigning high school experiences. As you design pathways that see high school as a beginning and not an end, keep students’ options open, keep the choice of which pathway with students and their families, and collaborate beyond the school walls with families, employers, community partners and post-secondary education providers there are many implementation decisions to address.
In order to support the “know how” of school leaders, teachers, staff, and community we have compiled a variety of reports and guides. Each of these reports offer models and often share district and school sites where the approach has had a successful impact.
The Condition of College & Career Readiness
College & Career Readiness Snapshot
Getting Real About Career Readiness
More than an Application
Connecting Secondary Career and Technical Education and Registered Apprenticeship
Nudging for Success
Work-based Learning Toolkit
Earn While You Learn
Earn While You Learn: Switzerland’s Vocational Education and Training System In countries such as Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, apprenticeships are an integral part of the educational system. Recently, the United States has shown increasing interest in learning more about the Swiss model and other European models. This brochure explains the key characteristics of the Swiss model, highlights Swiss-U.S. cooperation, and discusses current initiatives in the field.
Degrees of Opportunity
ISA Outcome Evaluation
Expanding Career Through Career and Technical Student Organizations
New Pathways to Careers and College
See it in Action!
Nuvu, in Cambridge Massachusetts, is an innovative school based on a project-based studio model lead by coaches who are leaders in their industry, experts in diverse fields, and passionate thought leaders.
Click to visit Nuvu’s website.
The Tacoma School of the Arts began as an idea in 1998 and with the help of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Model Schools Program, the Tacoma Public Schools, and a variety of partners in the local arts and business community, the Tacoma School of the Arts (TSOTA) opened in the Fall of 2001. The school’s proximity to cultural organizations was intentional in order to provide opportunities for students to engage in the community.
Click to visit TSOA’s website.
Checkout a day in the Life of several Albemarle County High School students as they have a variety of experiences to support post-secondary pathways.
Carl Wunsche Senior High School in Spring, TX’s mission statement is, “To prepare students for lifelong learning and achievement by focusing on student career interests.” They place students on one of three industry career paths—technology, health and professions—and supplements their curriculum with real-world experience.
Click to visit CWSHS’s website.
Iowa Big is a program that attracts students from across Cedar Rapids, Iowa, because it provides the opportunity to earn high school credit by working on real-world projects designed by students, businesses, non-profits and government agencies. While working alongside local businesses and experts, Iowa BIG provides students a canvas to develop and engage with projects that have a profound impact on their own community. For this, they received the XQ award for turning the community into a hub of learning.
Click to visit Iowa Big’s website.
Tiger Ventures is a high school fully integrated with a new venture incubator. Created by the school district, it will serve as a site to assist in the economic growth and sustainability of the community and as an educational partner – providing both internships for students as part of their school day and professional development for teachers and staff.
Click to visit Tiger Ventures’ website.
Video: High School 2022 A Day in the Life
High School 2022 is a district-wide initiative to design, refine and deliver the future of high school for graduates in the class of 2022 and beyond. The Virginia Department of Education is currently developing the Profile of a Virginia Graduate, a framework that will be used for the State Board’s revision of high school graduation requirements for students graduating in the class of 2022. High School 2022 in Albemarle County, Virginia will be influenced and responsive to the Profile of a Virginia Graduate.
Video: Iowa Big
This four-minute video tells the story of Iowa Big.
Video: XQ Super School: PSI High
PSI High is an immersive, full-time program located within Seminole High School where students work in an environment that looks like a high-tech office instead of a classroom. Rather than learn through traditional instruction, our students join teams with their peers and teachers to solve real community, business, and social problems.
Video: Vicksburg Warren School District, MS
“Mississippi Today’s” Gabriel Austin examines Vicksburg Warren School District’s efforts of a new pilot program that exempts it and two other school districts from some state laws to allow schools to be more innovative in tackling the challenge of achievement gaps, particularly between white and minority and low socioeconomic status students and their peers.
Measuring Progress Toward College & Career Readiness
Michele Cahill hosts a conversation with three experts on how to measure and evaluate performance in schools. Featuring: Andy Calkins Deputy Director of Next Generation Learning Challenges Karen Pittman CEO of Forum for Youth Investment Antonia Rudenstine Co-Director of reDesign.
Whole-School Improvement Efforts
We also offer a section which looks at what as been learned from efforts to implement evidence-based high school redesign and improvement efforts in a comprehensive manner.
The resources below offer comprehensive evidence-based improvement efforts throughout the country.