High Schools


High Schools

Learning happens when students are given something to do, not something to learn. That’s the spirit behind our Making Schools Work school improvement process for grades nine through 12.

Since 1987, we’ve helped thousands of high schools transform their cultures and increase student achievement by connecting classrooms to the real world — the connection that inspires success.


High Schools That Work
Meet bold goals for student achievement

The cornerstone of SREB’s school improvement designs, High Schools That Work connects college-ready academics, challenging career pathways and hands-on workplace learning with early opportunities for students to earn credentials and degrees, discover emerging careers and build plans to achieve their goals.

With HSTW, distributed leadership empowers teams of principals, teachers and counselors to assess and address their students’ learning needs. Our problem-solving process, based in engineering design principles, offers school teams structures and tools for using data to continuously improve instruction.

The process is supported with professional development on powerful instructional practices, planning data from student and teacher surveys, and out-of-the-box college-preparatory curricula like our exciting Advanced Career pathways that capture students’ attention and promote achievement.

What Makes It Work – 10 Key Practices

High Schools That Work is based on 10 key practices that positively impact effort and achievement and provide students with the purpose, direction and support they need to achieve readiness.

Customizable Support

HSTW works in any setting or grade configuration, including career academies, small learning communities, online and blended learning options, and accelerated postsecondary programs like early college high schools and grade nine-14 schools.

Whatever the context, we tailor our support services to suit schools’ needs. While most schools and districts choose to receive direct support from our leadership and instructional coaches, we can also prepare state or district leaders to provide implementation support.

HSTW schools become part of a strong national network of thousands of K-12 leaders and teachers who gather each year at our Making Schools Work Conference to experience transformational professional development, learn from each other and educational leaders, and share their successes.

We recommend implementing HSTW in tandem with SREB’s project-based Advanced Career STEM pathways and Readiness Courses for students who need help meeting literacy and math benchmarks during the critical transitions from the middle grades to high school or from high school to college.


High School Key Practices

Making Schools Work engages the entire high school community — teachers, leaders and staff working together in a distributed leadership structure — in addressing SREB’s five focus areas (leadership for continuous improvement, aligned curriculum, engaging instruction, career exploration and systems of support) and taking ownership of their improvement efforts.

By combining this process with the 10 Key Practices below, high schools build their capacity to continuously address problems and meet clear targets for student success. 

Download the practices: Download the PDF

Download an 11×17 poster of our process and practices: Download the PDF

Download a 24×36 poster of our practices: Download the PDF

Download a grid of SREB’s Key Practices and Focus Areas across K-12: Download the PDF


Senior-Year Redesign
Accelerating Postsecondary Attainment

SREB encourages high schools and technology centers that adopt Making Schools Work to redesign the senior year of high school to give college-ready students a head start on a credential or degree and help struggling students enter postsecondary programs without the need for remediation.