Choosing Small: The Essential Guide to Successful High School Conversion / Edition 1

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With low achievement and high drop-out rates plaguing our larger public high schools, communities across the country are creating smaller, more personalized schools that share a larger campus. Drawing on the Coalition of Essential Schools longtime experience in school design, Choosing Small offers practical and strategic guidance for educators interested in transforming their high school. Featuring interviews with educators experienced in school conversion, the book covers all aspects of the conversion planning and implementation process such as engaging a broad array of stakeholders, working with the district, creating vision statements for the new schools, building leadership and management structures, and identifying curricular options, as well as, instructional needs.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Choosing Small provides necessary lessons onhigh school conversions, one of the most difficultreform efforts of our time."
—Theodore R. Sizer, founder,Coalition of Essential Schools

"A guide to creating the kind of schooling thatour young people need and deserve."
—Ron Wolk, founding editor, Education Week

"Anyone in a school leadership position who istrying to create high schools for the twenty-firstcentury should read this book."
—John Welch, superintendent, Highline Public Schools, Burien, Washington

"This book is for those who have ever gone toschool, been in a school, or realized we coulddo more for our children."
—Jamie Kane, principal, Skyview High School, Thornton, Colorado

"A must-read for anyone interested inimproving learning outcomes for young peoplethrough smaller, redesigned high schools."
—John A. Sanchez, executive director, East Side House Settlement, the Bronx, New York

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787980276
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/21/2005
  • Series: The Jossey-Bass Education Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 8.48 (w) x 10.98 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Jay Feldman

Jay Feldman is director of research at the Coalition of Essential Schools. He has conducted research in child development, whole school change, forms of democratic and equitable schooling, and alternative education. His interests include the educative functions of play and age-mixing, children’s moral development, and understandings of race and diversity. He has a M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. from Boston College in developmental psychology.

M. Lisette López is a senior program associate of the National Small Schools Project of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Prior to CES, Lisette led a range of action research, policy advocacy, and community-based education projects to help build the capacity of schools, youth programs, and community agencies to respond positively and equitably to diverse student populations and communities. She has an M.A. in education from U.C. Berkeley.

Katherine G. Simon earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in curriculum and teacher education from the Stanford University School of Education. Originally a high school English and drama teacher, she served as director of research and co-executive director of CES. Katherine is the author of Moral Questions in the Classroom: How to Get Kids to Think Deeply About Real Life and Their School Work (2001), which was named “outstanding book in curriculum for 2001-2002” by the American Education Research Association. She is also coauthor of Questioning Practices: Inquiry into Student and Teacher Work (2004). She currently leads workshops for school faculties on curriculum and instructional design and writes on parenting and school reform issues.

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Table of Contents




The Coalition of Essential Schools.

The Authors.


1. Education for the Information Age.

2. Leading the Process.

3. The District: Supporting Change and Working with Autonomies.

4. Stakeholder Engagement.


5. School Vision.

6. Transforming Instructional Practice.

7. Essentials of Small School Leadership.

8. Handling Electives, AP Classes, and Other Access Issues.

9. Sharing the Building.


10. Roll-Out Plans for New Autonomous Small Schools.

11. Student Choice Options.

12. Teacher Assignment and Contractual Issues.

13. Concluding Thoughts.

Appendix A: Profiled Organizations.

Appendix B: Profiled Schools.

Appendix C: Additional School Design Resources.

Appendix D: Model Guidelines for Small Schools.

Appendix E: Plans, Processes, and Policies for a Conversion Strategy.

Appendix F: The Harwood Institute’s Principles of Civic Engagement.



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