Whole school reform is finally taking center stage in the education arena. More and more educators are understanding that piecemeal reform too often produces a confusing and inefficient proliferation of programs that generate resource battles, reinforce inequity, and ultimately help only a few students. Nowhere is this more apparent than in large, urban comprehensive high schools where a complex, loosely coupled, and often highly politicized organizational structure has encouraged a Band-Aid approach to the growing social and academic challenges these schools face. Although headway has been made at the elementary- and middle-grade levels ( Legters & McDill, 1994; Slavin & Fashola, 1998), most inner-city high schools remain in need of sustained comprehensive reform.
This chapter has shown that reform ideas for high schools exist and that some schools are putting these ideas together in an approach to whole school reform. Because these efforts are still in their infancy, research evidence showing positive effects remains more suggestive than conclusive. Perhaps most notable about these efforts, to date, is simply the level of convergence of the reform strategies adopted by restructuring high schools. That restructuring high schools appear to be embracing so many of the same reform strategies suggests that the time may be ripe for a national high school restructuring movement. Such a movement would lend added coherence to the efforts of high schools around the country and better enable practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to learn from these efforts.
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