November 8-10, 2009

Small Schools and High School Reform

Shrinking Size, Diminishing Returns?

School districts frequently look to the small schools model– splitting up large high schools or creating with only a few hundred students– when searching for ways to bolster student achievement and enhance the relationship between students and teachers. If students feel more connected to teachers and other adults at school, the thinking goes, then they will attend classes regularly, show more interest in coursework and do whatever it takes to graduate. Small learning communities have been found to improve school climate and student attitudes.For graduation rates and standardized test performance, the research isn’t as solid, which may have troubling implications for the small schools model’s long-term success.

About 16 reporters attended EWA’s regional seminar Nov. 8-10, 2009 in San Diego, Calif., digging through issues and exploring story ideas related to small schools and high school reform. Participants toured schools in the San Diego Unified School District including to Kearny High Educational Complex, Lincoln High School and Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech, to take an in-depth look at programs and hear from teachers, principals, students and parents about their experiences.

Featured spakers included: Michael Klonsky, Small Schools Workshop and Center for Innovative Schools; Libia Gil, American Instiutes for Research; Ash Vasudeva, Stanford University Schoold Redesign Network; Karin Chenoweth, The Education Trust; and Clara Hemphill, New School Center for New York City Affairs.

You can read the smalls schools agenda and find speaker presentations below. Also, you can view supplemental materials consisting of reports, essays and articles to help with your reporting. View reporters who attended the meeting. See pictures from the meeting on Flickr. You can also read reporter Hugo Rodrigues’ coverage of the meeting on his blog.

 Presentations and Resources:

The American Institue for Research’s Libia Gil, presents trends in small schools and high school reform and implementation issues.

The Education Trust’s Karin Chenoweth discusses what big districts can learn from small schools.

Michael Klonsky, of the Small Schools Workshop and Center for Innovative Schools, gives an overview of trends and performance of small schools and reform.