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ERIC Number: ED501458
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr
Pages: 36
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 45
ISBN: ISBN-978-0-9787383-8-9
If Small Is Not Enough...? The Characteristics of Successful Small High Schools in Chicago
Stevens, W. David
Consortium on Chicago School Research
Since 2002 the Consortium on Chicago School Research, in collaboration with the Mills College in Oakland, California, has conducted a series of studies on the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative (CHSRI)--a partnership between Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the Gates Foundation, and local Chicago foundations to create approximately two dozen small high schools across the city. This latest report in the CHSRI series describes the practices and characteristics of CHSRI schools with better than expected freshman-year course performance. Drawing on both qualitative and quantitative indicators across a sample of ten CHSRI schools, our analysis identified three conditions found in schools with comparatively high student achievement: strong teacher professional communities, deep principal leadership, and strong teacher influence. In addition, CHSRI schools with high achievement tended to provide a personalized and supportive environment for their students. Through qualitative fieldwork, we also show how these characteristics work together in high achieving schools. Teacher professional communities that engage in collective work on academic improvement are supported by strong leadership in schools. Involved principal leadership is important for organizing and sustaining collective work, while teacher influence helps make it more relevant for schools' staff. Both of these supporting conditions are necessary to make collective work more meaningful. This work highlights that how adults work together in small schools is a crucial factor in raising student achievement. In particular, it suggests that collective work on improving instruction is a key lever for raising achievement. In addition, it points to the benefits of balancing the direction and initiative provided by principals with teacher voice and leadership. Given that reducing size does not automatically lead to such developments, however, schools will need to intentionally focus on creating these key organizational characteristics. Four appendixes include: (1) Description of the Sample; (2) Survey Measures and Factors; (3) Models; and (4) Description of Variables. (Contains 42 endnotes and 8 tables.)
Consortium on Chicago School Research. 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-702-3364; Fax: 773-702-2010; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Chicago Community Trust
Authoring Institution: Consortium on Chicago School Research
Identifiers - Location: Illinois