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ERIC Number: ED498333
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jun
Pages: 68
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 60
Small High Schools on a Larger Scale: The First Three Years of the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative. Research Report
Kahne, Joseph E.; Sporte, Susan E.; de la Torre, Marisa
Consortium on Chicago School Research
Increasingly, researchers, policymakers, school leaders, and concerned citizens are recognizing that high schools in the United States are in need of major reform. Current research shows that high schools are not preparing students for college, work, or life, and that they are leading to increased alienation among students. In a much-noted speech to the National Governors Association, Bill Gates described high schools as obsolete. He continued, "By obsolete, I don't just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed, and under-funded, although a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean that our high schools, even when they are working exactly as designed, cannot teach our kids what they need to know today." Analysis by Greene and Winters indicates that the national graduation rate for the class of 2002 was 71 percent for public school students, and that only 34 percent of students who entered ninth grade in public schools left school with both a regular diploma and the qualifications to attend a four-year college. The problem is especially severe in large urban high schools, which disproportionately serve students of low socioeconomic status and students of color: of students enrolled as ninth-graders and scheduled to graduate in 2002, only 52 percent of Latino and 56 percent of African-American students ultimately earned a regular diploma. The likelihood of graduating with the abilities and qualifications to even apply to a four-year institution is 40 percent for white students, 23 percent for African-American students, and 20 percent for Latino students. Chicago's public schools reflect these trends. Only 54 percent of the 2000-2001 freshman class graduated in four years. In addition, eleventh-graders in Illinois scored higher than eleventh-graders in Chicago on the 2004 Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE). Roderick, Nagaoka, and Allensworth found that only 6.5 percent of 13-year-olds in Chicago's public high schools in 1998 or 1999had graduated from high school within six years, and only about 3 percent of male African-American and Latino students did so. Spurred by such statistics, some educational reformers have proposed that the creation of small schools provides a possible response to impersonal, incoherent, and ineffective "shopping mall" high schools, reversing a 50-year trend based on arguments that small rural schools are less effective than larger comprehensive high schools that can provide students with greater opportunities through an appropriately differentiated curriculum. Reform focused on smaller, more personal schools has been spurred by educators, researchers, and by foundation funding. Energized by these efforts, the city of Chicago and numerous other urban districts are emphasizing the creation of small schools as a key part of their high school improvement strategies. The document includes four appendixes: (A) Description of the Sample; (B) Rasch Analysis; (C) Description of Hierarchical Linear Models for Teacher and Student Survey Measures and Student Outcomes; and (D) Description of Teacher and Student Survey Measures. [This report was written with John Q. Easton. Commentaries are provided by Joseph McDonald and Henry May.]
Consortium on Chicago School Research. 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-702-3364; Fax: 773-702-2010; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.
Authoring Institution: Consortium on Chicago School Research, IL.
Identifiers - Location: Illinois; United States
IES Cited: ED502502