In addition to the new mandates of No Child Left Behind, West Clermont School District in Cincinnati, Ohio is converting both of its large high schools into five smaller schools within schools.
Considering West Clermont’s statistics from the 2000-01 school year, which were reported in The Cincinnati Enquirer, the reason for the decision to move to small schools is clear. The school’s graduation rate was 80.9 percent, and 36 percent of the freshman class failed one or more classes. Student behavior was also a concern: 1,075 suspendable incidents resulted in students missing 2,012 days. Communication between parents and teachers was also a problem with 58 percent of parents reporting that teachers do not contact them with news about their child’s progress-or lack thereof.
Teachers and administrators are convinced that smaller schools will improve student achievement. In general, small schools personalize and contextualize students’ educational experience and facilitate the implementation of other effective strategies. These schools are successful not only because of their small size, but because small size allows for the implementation of positive changes. For example, in the two Ohio high schools, Glen Este and Amelia, a team of teachers teach the same students throughout high school. In addition, students will have fewer classmates-fewer than 300 in each small school-compared to over 1,400 before the conversion.
|High School Enrollment Increases for the 12th Straight Year
According to Projections of Education Statistics to 2012, released by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 53.6 million students will enter K-12 classrooms this fall.
The number of high school students in 2002 is projected to increase for the 12th straight year to 13.86 million. The number of high school graduates is projected to reach 2.9 million.
Note: Enrollments for 2001 and 2002 are projections.