Inside High School Reform: Making the Changes that Matter
Publication Type:Web Article
Year of Publication:2005
Jan Yow, a North Carolina teacher, says that this book’s eight chapters “cover everything from financing sustainable programs to teacher professional development to data-driven decision making,” and offers case studies of actual schools.
Citation: Horowitz, J. (CAPP) (2005). Inside high school reform: Making changes that matter. San Francisco: West Ed.
Jordan Horowitz & the California Academic Partnership Program
2005 (88 pp./paperback)
Reviewed by Jan Yow
Chapel Hill, NC
High school reform is currently a hot topic on any educational
agenda evidenced by the $921 million the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has
dedicated to high school reform as of December 2005. As
high school education improves, it is imperative that "lessons
learned" be disseminated so that both successes and failures
can be shared to benefit all high schools. Inside High
School Reform: Making Changes that Matter does just
that. "This book is based on the evaluation of CAPP [California
Academic Partnership Program] initiatives involving 28 high
schools, their feeder middle schools, and postsecondary
educational partners since 1996" (p. vi) and addresses efforts
taken in implementing secondary school reform.
Inside High School Reform manages to pack a great deal into less than 100 pages. Initially
assuming the book's best audience would be administrators,
I was pleasantly surprised that the included information is
also applicable to teachers, parents, and anyone interested
in learning about innovative ideas to help students learn.
The eight chapters cover everything from financing sustainable
programs to teacher professional development to data-driven
decision making. Recognizing that topics such as "data-driven
decision making" are becoming common phrases in education
lingo, the practical examples help demonstrate how the CAPP
schools used data to better inform their work.
In addition to overall findings and practical examples, Inside
High School Reform includes stories of actual programs
and centers that proved successful in the 28 high schools.
Vignettes about homework centers, vertical team meetings,
and teacher-driven institutes provide enough information to
replicate similar programs in other schools. Successful outcomes
are discussed, but failed attempts are also included, painting
a realistic picture of the challenge of any reform movement.
From their work, CAPP found that successful high schools are strong
in the areas of curriculum and instruction, professional development,
educational leadership, and student support services. Upon
reflection of the first five years of the project, work by
teachers to improve curricula and instruction proved to be
"the single most successful strategy to improve student learning"
(p. vi) in the CAPP schools. As teacher leaders work to improve
curricula and instruction, they can most definitely benefit
from the "lessons learned" by these progressive California