The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) last week released Breaking Ranks II: Strategies for Leading High School Reform, a tool that simultaneously challenges principals to take responsibility for school and student improvement and provides specific recommendations that will help them accomplish that objective.
“Breaking Ranks II is a grassroots, school-based reform effort that arrives just at the forefront of significant discussions over the shortcomings and needs of the nation’s high schools,” said Gerald N. Tirozzi, NASSP Executive Director. “As the White House, Congress, and state and local policymakers begin to debate the merit and issues surrounding high school reform, principals in high schools across the country will be receiving the Breaking Ranks II handbook and implementing successful strategies for high school reform.”
Building on the first Breaking Ranks report which was released almost a decade ago, the new report offers recommendations in three key areas: personalization and the school environment; collaborative leadership and professional learning communities; and curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The report was developed with the Education Alliance at the Lab at Brown University over a two-year period. Among its recommendations are:
- Every student should have a Personal Plan for Progress and a Personal Adult Advocate. Such personalization recognizes that each student learns differently and provides the support and guidance for each student to set, review and achieve his or her goals.
- High schools should consist of small learning communities and teachers’ student loads should be no more than 90 students. Such efforts are meant to improve “student attitudes, attendance, participation, and satisfaction,” allow time to address the instructional needs of each student and increase opportunities for professional development, curriculum writing, and instructional preparation.
- Recognizing that education is a continuum, high schools should be part of a K-16 partnership to enhance communication at different levels to ensure that students at each stage of the continuum will better understand what will be required of them at the succeeding stage.
- Every educator should have a Personal Learning Plan to ensure that “principals, teachers, and other staff members can address their own learning and professional development needs as they relate to improving student learning.”
Supporting Principals Who Break Ranks was also released by NASSP last week. This report stresses the crucial role of all levels of government in the process of successfully transforming high schools: “With the coordinated and focused efforts of principals, districts, states, and the federal government . . . high-performing high schools will flourish, raising the achievement of all students and, as a result, providing immeasurable benefits to our society as a whole,” the report says.
Breaking Ranks II is available at: http://www.nassp.org/breakingranks/breakingranks2.cfm.