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What High School Could Be

Saskia Traill

Saskia Traill is TASC's Vice President of Policy and Research.

Our mental images of high school—the brick building, the metal lockers, the classrooms where students cycle through 50-minute classes—are so deeply embedded that to see the possibilities afresh, we need a new picture.

Below, we show you what high school learning anytime and anywhere looks like for three theoretical students. Sara has completed most of her credits and is right on track to graduate, but she’s feeling pressure to help support her family. Her flexible, forward-thinking public high school has arranged for her to take a 7 AM class at the Y for which she gets a phys ed credit (one of the places students in New York City often fall behind), and an independent study where she can earn credit for what she learns on the job.

Alex is struggling, but he hasn’t yet dropped out. His high school builds on his love of sports to keep him going, arranging for him to apprentice as a lifeguard while he keeps earning academic credits toward graduation.

Joe’s taken the most advanced academics available at his high school. He touches base at school each day for history class and an advisory, but he’s also taking Algebra on a college campus, and drama criticism with a community arts organization.

In a report we publish today with support from the Ford Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation and the W.T. Grant Foundation, TASC summarizes what some of the most innovative New York City high schools are doing to personalize education to meet the needs of all students. Based on a strong body of evidence that shows adolescents learn better when learning feels relevant to their aspirations, we lay out a framework for high school improvement that builds on strong partnerships between schools and other institutions. We’re proposing that New York take a cohesive and robust expanded learning approach to high school education by helping students earn credits toward graduation through internships, apprenticeships and other coursework beyond the walls of schools.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

High school schedule for three students that includes learning opportunities outside of school

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