Webinar: Transforming the High School Experience: Lessons from the New York Small Schools Initiative

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States and districts face enormous challenges in designing and executing effective strategies to turn around the lowest-performing high schools. Beginning in 2002, New York City closed more than twenty failing high schools and opened more than two hundred new secondary schools while implementing a centralized high school admission process through which approximately 80,000 students a year indicate their school preference from a wide range of programs.

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MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research firm in New York City, found that “small high schools of choice” in New York City increase students’ likelihood of earning credits, progressing through school, and graduating in four years with Regents diplomas—demonstrating evidence of college readiness. These schools serve low-income students of color, two thirds of whom are far behind grade level as entering ninth graders. The results underscore the historic nature of the small schools work undertaken in New York City and its implications for reforming failing high schools in other communities. This study provides the first reliable evidence that transformation at scale within a large, urban, public school system is possible.

What are the lessons learned from the New York City small high schools of choice initiative that can help districts and states create viable strategies to turn around the lowest-performing high schools? An archived Webinar (from Friday, October 15, 2010)  discusses the findings of the MDRC report, Transforming the High School Experience: How New York City’s New Small Schools Are Boosting Student Achievement and Graduation Rates, and facilitate a conversation among education leaders about comprehensive approaches to turning around the nation’s lowest-performing high schools. The webinar also includes a question and answer period to address questions submitted by viewers across the nation.

Gordon Berlin, President, MDRC

Michele Cahill, Vice President, National Programs, and Program Director, Urban Education, Carnegie Corporation of New York

Deborah Delisle, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ohio Department of Education

Robert Glascock, Executive Director, Maryland Breakthrough Center, Maryland State Department of Education

Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education