Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Project Surveys Community Based Organizations High Schools

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Project Surveys Community Based Organizations High Schools

Article excerpt

A new report aims to promote awareness at the state level of the importance of Community Based Organizations (CBO) high schools, highlighting the promising lessons these schools hold for improving the educational outcomes of youth at risk of school failure or dropping out.

The report, "CBO High Schools: Their Value and Their Needs in an Era of Accountability," released by the Council of Chief State School Officers' (CCSSO) High Poverty Schools Initiative, is based on a survey of six CBO high schools in five states and the local and state educational agencies that provide them support.

CBO high schools are public schools serving a disproportionately large number of low-income and educationally disadvantaged students who have not succeeded in "traditional" public education programs. Operated by not-for-profit community-based organizations, these diploma-granting programs represent a last chance option for many young people to acquire the basic skills needed for future careers and lifelong learning.

Within the context of broader school reform, the report details the research-based instructional strategies common to all CBO schools, such as small learning communities, reduced student-teacher ratios, and individualized and experiential approaches to learning. The report also outlines key challenges faced by CBO schools today such as funding, staffing, assessment and accountability, and professional development.

For instance, though most CBO schools receive assistance from private institutions, these schools rely mostly on public sector allocations. Inconsistent policies concerning the use of public sector funds, however, have contributed to an overall funding environment for CBO schools that is not always stable or adequate.

In addition, low teacher salaries and benefits, often strained by the programs and direct services CBO schools provide, hinder staff recruitment. …

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