The Southern Regional Education Board’s (SREB) High Schools That Work(HSTW) is the nation’s first large-scale effort to engage state, district and school leaders and teachers in partnerships with students, parents and the community to improve the way all high school students are prepared for work and further education.
HSTW provides a framework of goals, key practices and key conditions for accelerating learning and setting higher standards. It recommends actions that provide direction to schools as they work to improve academic and career-technical instruction at school and the work site. These recommendations meet the criteria for comprehensive school reform.
The HSTW effort is based on the belief that, in the right school environment, most students can learn complex academic and technical concepts. The initiative targets high school students who seldom are challenged to meet higher academic standards.
SREB provides member states and sites with staff development, technical assistance, communications, publications and assessment services. The annual High Schools That Work Summer Staff Development Conference is a focal point for year-round professional development.
High Schools That Work has grown from 28 pilot sites in 13 states to its current size of over 1,200 sites in 30 states and the District of Columbia. The states include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
High Schools That Work ( HSTW ) has identified a set of Key Practices that impact student achievement through development of multiple programs of study that prepare students for postsecondary studies and careers. These Key Practices provide direction and meaning to comprehensive school improvement:
1. High Expectations
Motivate more students to meet higher standards by integrating high expectations into classroom practices and providing frequent feedback.
2. Program of Study
Require each student to complete an upgraded academic core and a concentration.
3. Academic Studies
Teach more students the essential concepts of the college-preparatory curriculum by encouraging them to apply academic content and skills to real-world problems and projects.
4. Career/technical studies
Provide more students access to intellectually challenging career/technical studies in high-demand fields that emphasize the higher-level academic and problem-solving skills needed in the workplace and in further education.
5. Work-Based Learning
Enable students and their parents to choose from programs that integrate challenging high school studies and work-based learning and are planned by educators, employers and students.
6. Teachers Working Together
Provide cross-disciplinary teams of teachers time and support to work together to help students succeed in challenging academic and career/technical studies.
7. Students Actively Engaged
Engage students in academic and career/technical classrooms in rigorous and challenging proficient-level assignments using research-based instructional strategies and technology.
Involve students and their parents in a guidance and advisement system that develops positive relationships and ensures completion of an accelerated program of study with an academic or career/technical concentration.
9. Extra Help
Provide a structured system of extra help to assist students in completing accelerated programs of study with high-level academic and technical content.
10. Culture of continuous improvement
Use data continually to improve school culture, organization, management, curriculum and instruction to advance student learning.
The mission of High Schools That Work ( HSTW ) is to create a culture of high expectations that motivates students to make the effort to succeed in school. To achieve this mission, HSTW has set several goals for continuous improvement:
- Increase the percentage of high school students who meet college- and career-readiness goals to at least 85 percent.
- Increase the percentage of students completing the HSTW-recommended curriculum to 85 percent.
- Increase the percentage of high school students who complete high school in four years to 90 percent.
- Advance state and local policies and leadership initiatives that sustain a continuous school improvement effort.
- Help all students leave high school with an employer certification, postsecondary credit, or the knowledge and skills needed to avoid remedial postsecondary studies.
HSTW Conditions for Accelerating Student Achievement
- A clear, functional mission statement: Each school has a clear, functional mission statement to prepare high school students for success in postsecondary education and the workplace.
- Strong leadership: Each district and school has strong and committed leaders to improve, align and benchmark curricula to high standards, to improve the quality of instruction, and to raise student achievement and graduation rates.
- Plan for continuous improvement: District and school leaders create an organizational structure and process that ensures continuous involvement with faculty on what to teach; how to teach it; what students are expected to learn; how to assess what they have learned; and how they relate to each other, to the students and to the home and community.
- Qualified teachers: Teachers have in-depth knowledge of their subject areas and of teaching strategies appropriate to students’ grade levels. The school and district employ teachers who have depth in their teaching fields and support them in learning how to teach well.
- Commitment to goals: School leaders and teachers are committed to achieving the HSTW Goals and implementing the Key Practices. School boards are committed to having all students complete a demanding academic core and an academic or career/technical concentration, or both.
- Flexible scheduling: School superintendents and school boards permit high schools to adopt flexible schedules enabling students to earn more credits and redo work until it meets at least grade-level standards.Support for professional development: District and school leaders provide teachers with instructional materials, planning time and professional development for implementing new curriculums and research-based instructional methods.
Feel free to contact us with questions or any concerns you may have about High Schools That Work.
Sherri Nash, Executive Director
Pat Givens, Secretary III-A
High Schools That Work Direct Services Team: