A Reporter's Guide to Rethinking the American High School

Overview

A Reporter’s Guide to Rethinking the American High School
San Diego • High Tech High • December 4-5, 2017

High school is a critical phase in the journey to adulthood, but many students drop out or graduate ill-prepared to thrive in postsecondary education and the workforce. In response, momentum is building around efforts to reinvent the high school experience -- to make it more engaging, relevant, and academically challenging for young people.

Scattered across the country are examples of public schools -- both district-run and charter -- that are looking to buck the norms of the typical American high school. They are rethinking how, when, where, and at what pace students learn.

But the road to educational innovation is littered with potholes and early exit ramps. How can reporters make sense of the many emerging approaches that aim to upend traditional models? What questions should they ask to help cut through the buzzwords and flashy videos?

At this journalists-only seminar, on the campus of High Tech High in San Diego, reporters will explore these and other issues in high school redesign. They’ll hear from educators, analysts, students, and fellow journalists. They’ll witness, firsthand, examples of personalized and student-centered learning in action. Participating journalists will come away with a deeper context, new resources, and fresh story ideas to help cover this dimension of public schooling with an open mind and a healthy dose of skepticism.

Agenda

High school is a critical phase in the journey to adulthood, but many students drop out or graduate ill-prepared to thrive in postsecondary education and the workforce. In response, momentum is building around efforts to reinvent the high school experience — to make it more engaging, relevant, and academically challenging for young people.

Scattered across the country are examples of public schools — both district-run and charter — that are looking to buck the norms of the typical American high school. They are rethinking how, when, where, and at what pace students learn.

But the road to educational innovation is littered with potholes and early exit ramps. How can reporters make sense of the many emerging approaches that aim to upend traditional models? What questions should they ask to help cut through the buzzwords and flashy videos?

At this journalists-only seminar, on the campus of High Tech High in San Diego, reporters will explore these and other issues in high school redesign. They’ll hear from educators, analysts, students, and fellow journalists. They’ll witness, firsthand, examples of personalized and student-centered learning in action. Participating journalists will come away with a deeper context, new resources, and fresh story ideas to help cover this dimension of public schooling with an open mind and a healthy dose of skepticism.

Agenda

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What’s It Really Like to Attend an Unconventional High School?
Students Offer Candid Take on Project-Based and Personalized Learning

Amida Nigena very nearly quit the Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design before the first term of her freshman year had ended. It was 2015, the school was brand new and it wasn’t anything like other campuses in the Denver school system.

The district’s goal in creating the school was to educate a generation of innovators, graduates who had mastered the self-direction skills that would get them through college and help them flourish in the workforce.

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Learning or Teaching? Experimental High Schools Put Students First

The secret to student success may well be hidden in the buzzwords frequently used today to describe efforts to transform high school.

Personalized learning. Student-centered learning. Competency-based learning, and so on.

“There’s a common denominator in all these labels, and that common denominator is learning,” said Caroline Hendrie, the executive director of Education Writers Association at a recent seminar for journalists in San Diego.

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What is XQ and Why Is It Spending $100 Million to Reinvent High School?
Russlynn Ali discusses the foundation-backed 'Super School' project with journalists

Russlynn Ali, the managing director for education at the Emerson Collective, speaks with  The Hechinger Report's Liz Willen about the foundation's work to transform high school. (Erik Robelen/EWA)

At a gathering of education writers last week, the Emerson Collective’s Russlynn Ali walked not one but several fine lines, promising an “open source” ethos when sharing lessons gleaned from the group’s XQ Super School Project, but declining to commit the private philanthropy to transparency in its political spending and investments in education technology companies.

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What You Missed at EWA’s Seminar on Rethinking High School

Education journalists from across the U.S. gathered this week in San Diego, on the campus of High Tech High, to explore efforts to rethink the American high school. Along the way, they heard from fellow reporters, as well as educators, analysts and students.

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Russlynn Ali on Sharing Lessons from the $102M XQ Super Schools Project — and Why Trump May Be Damaging School Choice

At a gathering of education writers Tuesday, the Emerson Collective’s Russlynn Ali walked not one but several fine lines, promising an “open source” ethos when sharing lessons gleaned from the group’s XQ Super Schools Project but declining to commit the private philanthropy to transparency in political spending and education technology investment.

There is no way XQ could finance the creation of enough new models to change the institution of high school, so lessons from the 18 Super Schools recognized to date must be available to all, she said.

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Rethinking High School (and Accountability, Choice, and Philanthropy): Russlynn Ali of XQ Institute

As the CEO of the XQ Institute, Russlynn Ali oversees the ‘Super School Project,’ a high-profile, $100+ million competition aimed at spurring the “reinvention” of U.S. high schools.

As managing director of education at the private “impact investing” entity known as the Emerson Collective, she’s also on the frontline of some tectonic shifts in the world of education philanthropy.