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How Can We Make High Schools Better

Trying to make US High schools better is an ongoing question.  There is a history of continuous failures in the last fifteen years to prove it.  Our high schools require major overhaul in order to improve.  In a 2013 report by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, they listed ten researched principles that are critical to building high performing schools:

  1. Project-Based Learning:  Students need to study real world issues in their respective communities, researching their environments and go beyond the traditional, classroom, textbook learning.  Learning happens in a more meaningful way.  The projects can take several weeks with an in -depth focus and multiple projects can cover entire course loads.  The student’s work is presented to audiences and not just teachers.
  2. Integrated Studies: Studies should be able to reach far beyond traditional disciplines and exploring relationships.  Some subjects can be interwoven where connections are made i.e.  not only in science but crossing  over  history as a discipline. This way learning spans across disciplines.  This would build greater understanding of subject material
  3. Cooperative Learning:  Students learn the value of working in collaboration in groups.  This way students learn the meaning of resolving conflicts, managing emotions, etc.  Each team member must also learn the subject matter at hand.  This type of collaboration builds a strong foundation for learning.
  4. Comprehensive Assessment :  Assessments should not be diminished to simple test scores but provide a portfolio of the student’s strengths and weaknesses.  Academic progress can be closely monitored and improve areas that need more attention.
  5. Intellectual and Emotional Guide: This is where the teachers roles are more expounded.  Teachers are there to guide through the learning process. They would give students special attention in order to nurture areas of interests and develop and  foster self-confidence.  They may also become mentors rather than lecture in the classrooms.
  6. Teaching as Apprenticeship: Teachers should be trained under experienced masters. Less time should be spent by training teachers in classrooms and more in the field working with already practicing teachers. Teaching skills should be continually updated online and in person at conferences, or with online courses, workshops, etc.
  7. Technology: Using technology intelligently can transform a classroom and improve learning. It also modernizes a curriculum and improves parental and administrative connections. Students can share their work more productively and creatively. Record keeping can be eased with the use of technology.
  8. Reorganize: The whole school day should be restructured to enhance deeper learning. Summer months should be used to implement  student involvement, teacher development and community activities instead of taking off so much time to vacation. Schools should be redesigned to serve the community as well as having an emphasis on school design to support student teacher collaborations. Parenting classes should also be offered at the schools.
  9. Parents: The more active the parents in a school system the more successful the student. Parents also need to involve themselves in the schoolwork of their children.  Parents should be informed about the school’s philosophy and  high expectations set for the students prevailing at the school.
  10. Community Partners: Partnerships with a wide range of community organizations, businesses, higher education institutions, museums and government agencies are also a must in high school education. school-to-career programs and internships can also be instumental to successful programs. Schools can enlist mentorship with professionals to guide students to where they need to go.

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