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Spotlight on High School Redesign Aims to Spur Innovation

The rhetoric, research, and possibly resources are all aligning to give high schools the support they need to better prepare students for the future world of college and work.

Efforts to upgrade secondary education goes back decades. As one example,the National Association of Secondary School Principals launched its framework for school improvement, "Breaking Ranks." It outlined three core areas that must be addressed for student performance to improve: collaborative leadership; personalization of the school environment; and curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Progress in high schools is evident with higher graduation rates and more students engaging in college-level work through dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses.

The push for change is intensifying, and talk now is not merely of reform, but of redesign.

Attention is being focused on high school redesign at the federal level—first mentioned by President Obama in this year's State of the Union and followed up with a proposal for a competitive-grant program in the administration's budget request. If money comes through, educators could see new models for high school innovation that focuses on employer partnerships and practical instruction linked to technology.

Employers are clamoring for graduates with workplace experience, and college professors want students who are better prepared for the rigors of their courses.

Add to the momentum a new grant program rolling out in the fall linked to research from the Carnegie Corporation of New York on new design principles for high schools.

For more on the high school redesign movement and profiles of model programs, see High School Redesign Gets a Presidential Lift.

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