How California's "Most Challenged High Schools" Are Sending More Kids to College

September 16, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
WestEd Book Provides Answers for Struggling High Schools

What are some of California's "most challenged high schools" doing to send more of their students to college? A new WestEd book, "Inside High School Reform: Making the Changes That Matter," details the turnaround approaches that are preparing more students for college - disadvantaged students who wouldn't get there otherwise.

Author Jordan Horowitz, Senior Project Director at WestEd, and his research team followed 28 high schools, once labeled as California's lowest-performing, to uncover the formulas teachers used to rescue their students - and themselves - from expected failure.

"These schools faced tremendous challenges, and as a result were at the bottom of the heap and full of kids who were steered toward low-level classes because no one believed in them," says Horowitz. "All that has changed, thanks to teams of dedicated teachers and partners able to provide necessary resources."

Chock full of concrete examples, transferable techniques, and insider advice that only experience brings, Inside High School Reform offers real-life solutions to the common problems plaguing high schools across the country.

The book shows educators how to:

* Use creative budgeting and tap non-school community sources to fund reforms and improvements
* Create a school climate of optimism and success for students and teachers
* Overcome the "not-my-problem" syndrome and toss out the status quo
* Foster cross-grade collaboration and end teacher isolation
* Align standards and curriculum based on capturing the correct data
* offer meaningful teacher professional development that results in measurable success
* Devise tutoring centers and grade recovery programs that work
* Partner with feeder middle schools, businesses, and colleges for long-term success
* Establish a college-going culture across middle and high school campuses.

These approaches were developed by schools working with the California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP), funded by the California State Legislature. David Jolly, CAPP Statewide Director, states, "With this book, we are able to share the strategies and activities teachers and administrators use to improve their schools and their students' academic success."


1. Treat teachers as the trained education professionals they are.
2. Hold students to high expectations.
3. Continually use school, teacher, and student data to decide what changes to make next.
4. Start with what you want students to know and achieve, then work backwards to create tests and lesson plans.
5. Coordinate lesson plans and tests within departments and across grades and schools.
6. Don't take the "easy way out" when deciding how to help underachieving kids.
7. Create an optimistic, college-going culture and help students understand how high school work affects their future college and career choices.
8. Develop flexible school systems to maintain reforms that work.
9. Find partners such as local colleges, businesses, other schools, and parent groups to provide help.
10. Stay alert for new partners, activities, and funding streams while maintaining a focus on reform.

ISBN: 0-914409-22-0 / August 2005 / $15.95 / trade paper / 7 x 9 / 88 pages
Order information: 888.293.7833 or