HSTW School Improvement Design


High Schools That Work
School Improvement Design

Design Principle 1: Prepare All Students for College and/or Careers

All students need assignments and high-quality instruction aligned to grade-level college- and career-readiness standards in academic and career and technical education (CTE) courses. The Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC), the Mathematics Design Collaborative (MDC) and project-based assignments are keys to improving the quality of assignments in academic and CTE courses. This is best accomplished when college-ready academic courses and career pathway courses are coherently aligned in a career pathway program of study. It is important that students are provided counseling for careers to develop a program of study that aligns with one’s career aspirations beginning no later than eighth grade.

 Design Principle 2: Redefine How Time Is Used to Connect Academic, Career Pathways and Workplace Learning

Finding time for academic and CTE teachers to plan connected learning experiences for cohorts of students is essential. Students learn best when academic and applied learning opportunities in school and in the workplace are connected. Project-based learning is key to making seamless connections between academic and CTE courses in career pathway programs of study, and LDC and MDC are key to creating strong project-based assignments.

Design Principle 3: Provide Time and Support for Students to Achieve College- and/or Career-Readiness Standards                                                                                      

All students need opportunities for accelerated learning experiences in the middle grades and high school to master college- and career-readiness standards to eventually earn a credible credential or degree. To achieve these goals, students need extended time and often multiple tiers of instruction and support to acquire the foundational literacy, math, technical and behavioral skills and understandings needed to achieve employability and postsecondary success.

Design Principle 4: Use Career Pathways to Remove the Lines Between Secondary, Postsecondary and Workplace Learning, Business and Industry Partners

Students need to meet the readiness indicators of literacy and math to access advanced-level sequences of career pathway courses and work-site experiences leading to early college and early advanced credentials in high-demand, high-wage fields. Students need opportunities to make serious progress toward earning a credible credential while in high school that advances college and career readiness. This can be achieved through providing students accessibility to dual credit, embedded credits, early college, apprenticeships and other work-based learning experiences. Business and industry should be lead partners in developing rigorous career pathways programs of study. Pathways should be designed to align with regional or state economic data and forecasts.

Design Principle 5: Provide Students With School- and Community-Based Experiences to Help Set Future Career and Educational Goals

Through counseling for careers, students are provided with a progressive set of school-based and community-based experiences in the middle grades and early high school grades to explore career and educational options that reflect their interests and aptitudes. Students, with parental involvement, need a chance to learn what a good fit is for them and to act on it. Students need opportunities to have experiences in broad career fields to learn firsthand about future possibilities aligned with their interests, aptitudes and abilities.

Design Principle 6: Make School and Instruction Work for Students 

To serve students well, schools must rethink ways middle grades and high school teachers can work together in content areas and in interdisciplinary groups to plan grade-level assignments that engage and motivate students. This involves high schools finding ways to: a) organize around students’ interests and varying ability levels and creating assignments that engage and motivate them to succeed in meeting college- and career-readiness standards; b) make greater use of technology and other strategies to engage students in personalized assignments; and c) provide support to teachers using professional development to help them become facilitators of student learning.

High Schools That Work: Campus-Centered Framework

Graduates from HSTW sites are prepared for postsecondary studies and careers. They have acquired a credible industry-recognized credential, and/or they are ready for a range of postsecondary education and/or training options. The students are prepared to make informed decisions regarding postsecondary opportunities and careers. To graduate with the literacy, math and technical skills necessary to succeed in postsecondary studies and careers, students from HSTW sites will: 

  1. Complete an intellectually demanding career pathway program of study that includes:
  • four or more CTE courses aligned to labor-market opportunities, college-ready academic standards and postsecondary education training opportunities
  • a college-ready academic core (English/language arts, mathematics, science, social studies
  • four years of math including Algebra I and geometry and two additional rigorous mathematics courses such as statistics and another mathematics course related to their career pathway
  • Algebra II and higher math courses for students pursuing advanced career pathway programs of study leading to advanced credentials and postsecondary degrees in STEM fields
  • assignments and high-quality instruction aligned to grade-level, college- and career-readiness standards in all courses within the career pathway program of study
  • Advanced Career (AC), Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses may be used in lieu of four CTE courses as College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams that result in college credit toward a certification or degree
  • a weighted grade-point average for selecting CTE courses

2. Develop strong literacy (reading, verbal and written communication), numeracy and math skills that are necessary to succeed in postsecondary education and training settings and in the workforce.

3. Experience the extended learning time and support services needed to graduate with the foundational literacy, mathematic, technical and workplace knowledge and skills necessary to achieve postsecondary and workplace success.

4. Have access to Ready for High School Courses in literacy and mathematics in grade eight or grade nine when deemed not ready for high school studies, and have access to Ready for College Courses —Literacy Ready and Math Ready — in grade 12 when not meeting readiness standards for postsecondary and advanced training.

 5. Participate in authentic work-related project-based learning experiences in their career pathway courses that require: a) the application of grade-level college-readiness standards in literacy, mathematics, and science knowledge and skills; b) the utilization of technologies (coding and learning new software); and c) the students to work both independently and as part of a team to use technical, academic and technology knowledge and skills to solve real-world projects/problems.

6. Participate in a progressive sequence of work-based experiences related to students’ career pathway — tours, job shadowing, internships (paid and unpaid) — and as a capstone experience, participate in structured work-based learning that includes application of academic and technical knowledge and skills in real-world employment settings. Work-based learning is linked to students’ career pathway course work and is governed by an explicit learning plan developed with the employer.

 7.Make informed choices based on deeper understanding of their interests, aptitudes, academic strength, career opportunities and the education required for different career and education options. Students participate in career pathways programs of study that are aligned with postsecondary education and career opportunity options. Students have access to high-quality academic and career counseling with the full participation of teachers and parent(s) or individuals with parental responsibilities. Counselors support teachers’ efforts to assist students to choose a pathway program of study that prepares students for a double purpose — postsecondary studies and a career.

8Experience a senior year that allows students who have the foundational literacy and math skills needed for college and careers to pursue an early advanced credential program, an early college program or both.

9. Learn in a culture of continuous improvement where teachers and leaders track progress on a number of indicators toward the goal of having 80 percent of students leaving high school college and career ready with 25 percent earning an advanced certificate or degree by age 25.