• Boston Public Schools and Boston Plan for Excellence in Public Schools, $8 million.
Jobs for the Future will provide technical assistance to assist in the change to small schools. The Private Industry Council will provide internships and career education. The city has also created a fund, called Next Steps, to help high schools, institutions of higher education, and community partners to help address the problem of student alienation. Innovative projects will be awarded grants averaging between $10,000 and $15,000 per school.
Contacts: Thomas Payzant, Superintendent, (617) 227-8055, and Ellen Guiney, Executive Director, Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools, (617) 227-8055.
• Hamilton County (Tenn.) Schools and the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Public Education Fund, $8 million.
Key aspects of the plan include the elimination of low-level courses in all high schools; increasing the number of low-income and minority students who take rigorous academic courses; creating small learning communities; providing professional development for principals to lead and manage instructional reform; increasing professional development for teachers; expanding the use of literacy coaches, an approach used successfully in local middle schools; and, in some schools, adopting a school reform design called Talent Development, which was developed at Johns Hopkins University and focuses on increasing student achievement in the ninth grade.
Contacts: Jesse Register, Superintendent, (423) 209-8600, and Daniel Challener, President, Public Education Foundation, (423) 668-2424.
• Houston Independent School District and Houston Annenberg Challenge, $12 million.
Houston, which has the nation’s seventh largest school district, serves nearly 50,000 high school students in 23 comprehensive schools, but graduates only 45 percent of them within four years. In June, the district’s school board publicly committed that the district is moving its high schools away from “a factory model of instruction to one where students are prepared to thrive in the 21st century.”
Partners have developed several major strategies to achieve their goals. High on the list is professional development, including pedagogical training in literacy for teachers of all subjects. School restructuring plans include creating a “change agent” to facilitate reforms and transforming schools into small, personalized, and caring learning communities that have a clear focus on a career, academic, or thematic topic. District-wide reforms include placing about 80 percent of the district’s funds under the control of school principals and staff.
Contacts: Kaye Strippling, Superintendent of Schools, (713) 892-6300, and Linda Clarke, Executive Director, Houston Annenberg Challenge, (713) 658-1881.
• Providence Public Schools and the Rhode Island Children’s Crusade for Higher Education, $8 million.
The Providence plan focuses on improving the “single most important interactionthat between teacher and student.” Providence will make this happen primarily by creating small schools, improving instruction, and supporting young people’s social, emotional, and character development. The district will restructure its four large high schools, which serve 6,000 students, into small, personalized learning communities to improve instruction and nurture youth. It will create four-year academies with career themes, and it also will open new, small schools. One is called a performance-based school; it will have no grade levels and students will progress at their own pace as they meet achievement standards. To make schools more relevant, students will be offered more opportunities for community service projects and apprenticeships.
Contacts: Diana Lam, Superintendent, (401) 456-9211, and Mary Sylvia Harrison, President and Executive Director, Rhode Island Children’s Crusade for Higher Education, (401) 854-5500.
• Sacramento City Unified School District and Linking Education and Economic Development in Sacramento, $8 million.
To create small learning communities across the district, teachers, students, parents, and community members will divide each of the eight large high schools, which now serve nearly 13,000 students, into six-to-10 small, autonomous learning communities. To support this redesign, Sacramento is developing a model program for professional development and supervision. The model emphasizes standards for academic content and a core curriculumas well as building students’ skills in reading, writing, and language in all subjects. Sacramento’s plan includes strengthening principal leadership, and support for this effort comes from the Broad Foundation. Linking Education and Economic Development in Sacramento will work with all high schools on increasing young people’s access to career and higher education opportunities.
Contacts: Jim Sweeney, Superintendent, (916) 264-4000, and Brenda Gray, Executive Director, Linking Education and Economic Development in Sacramento, (916) 641-4180.
• San Diego City Schools and University of California, San Diego, Center for Research on Educational Equity and Teaching Excellence, $8 million.
Curriculum reforms will target two major problems at 18 comprehensive high schools that serve 31,300 students: Only about one in three high school graduates meet course requirements for admission to California state colleges and universities, and of those who go to college, a majority require remedial courses. The plan calls for expanding the district’s intensive professional development program, with a strong emphasis on literacy. Reformers will also expand the district’s highly regarded “genre literacy” model, which has resulted in significantly improved reading skills among adolescents with the weakest skills. The plan also calls for the district to phase in smaller schools over the five-year period of the grant.
Contacts: Alan Bersin, Superintendent, (619) 725-5506; Anthony Alvarado, Chancellor of Instruction, (619) 725-7104; and Hugh Mehan, Director, Center for Research on Education Equity and Teaching Excellence, (858) 822-2271.
• Worcester Public Schools and Clark University Hiatt Center for Urban Education, $8 million.
Partners in higher education and the arts will pair with schools to develop thematic and career-oriented educational programs. District-wide, there will be an increased emphasis on literacy and numeracy across the curriculum and an expansion of professional development for principals and teachers, including more time for teachers to share best practices and create interdisciplinary plans. Students will be given more responsibility in academic, social, and service realms of school life as part of an effort to promote youth development.
Contacts: James Caradonio, Superintendent, (508) 799-3115, and Thomas Del Prete, Director, Jacob Hiatt Center for Urban Education, (508) 793-7197.