Monday, May 01, 2006

Newsweek's top 100 high schools

I'll be picking up a copy of this week's Newsweek magazine today. You can read much of it online here. Seems that there are some "urban" schools that somehow manage to be excellent. How did that happen?

One big hint:

If you want to understand what's happening in some of America's most innovative public high schools, think back to your own experiences in that petri dish of adolescent social stratification known as the cafeteria. Were you a jock? A theater geek? A science whiz? Part of the arty crowd? Whatever your inclination, it defined where you sat. Now imagine that each of those tables was a school in itself—with a curriculum based on sports, drama, science or art and a student body with shared interests and common aptitudes. That radical idea is transforming thousands of high schools. A one-size-fits-all approach no longer works for everyone, the new thinking goes; a more individualized experience is better.

On the plus side, students get more adult attention and are less likely to be lost in the crowd. They can focus on subjects they really care about while still getting a grounding in the basics. But some educators think this boutique approach comes with a cost: the loss of a common experience that brings everyone together under one big roof.

What's worse--not being able to read and do math or not having that common experience? One common experience that must stop is that 56% dropout rate at Stratford & Maplewood High Schools.

Nashville's MLK comes in at 39, Hume-Fogg at 43. Most of the Top 100 schools have way more 'free lunch' students than the roughly 10% at both those area magnet schools by the way.

No comments: