December 23rd, 2010

WATCH: Small Schools ... Big Reforms?

“Courageous and arrogant”— that’s how one expert described New York City’s efforts to fix its high schools.  No other city has attempted reforms on a scale as big.

Starting almost a decade ago, the city began closing factory-style high schools that enrolled upwards of 2,500 students and  had graduation rates below 50%. To date, 26 such schools have been shuttered.
In their place, the city created 123 small, open-admission, theme-based high schools enrolling only a few hundred students each.  At these new schools,  graduation rates are higher— as high as 90%.

But not everyone is cheering the changes and some have sued to stop it.  What’s going on?

This piece was awarded second prize in the Education Writers’ Association 2010 Awards within the Feature, News Feature, or Issue Package category.

This program is made possible by the following funders:
Grade Level Reading Fund of the Tides Foundation, The Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


Podcast“It’s Not Our Fault”

Reporter John Tulenko talks with a teacher from a large, under-performing school slated to be closed in the upcoming year and a former principal from another such school. Large schools are claiming it’s not their fault in some respects. Listen to the story.

Podcast 2Are small arts high schools the answer?

High School for Violin and Dance principal Tanya John says “size matters” when it comes to the number of students in a school building. Smaller schools create communities that breed success for students. Listen to the story.


Podcast 3Large schools trying to go small

What makes a good school? We talk with teachers at a small high school in Brooklyn, NY. They say it’s more than just the size of a school. Listen to the story.

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