Articles in the High Schools category

NSBA participates in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), represented NSBA at gala dinner reception in Washington, D.C., honoring student recipients of the 19th Annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

The May 4 dinner at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History was the culmination of a four-day event that brought 102 state honorees — one middle level student and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia — to the nation’s capital to be recognized for their outstanding volunteer service to their communities. Selected from a field of more than 30,000 student volunteers, the state honorees were personally congratulated by actor Forest Whitaker, and each given a $1,000 award.

Ten students from the group were named national honorees for community service initiatives that ranged from feeding the hungry to helping victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Each received $5,000 personal rewards and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for charities of their choice.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards are sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. NSBA is proud to endorse these awards.


Lawrence Hardy|May 7th, 2014|Categories: High Schools, Middle Schools, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , |

Call for proposals for NSBA’s 2015 Annual Conference

2015 NSBA Annual Conference

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is requesting proposals for breakout sessions to be conducted during our 75th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn., March 21-23. The conference will draw thousands of attendees, exhibitors, and guests representing nearly 1,400 school districts, and will feature distinguished speakers and hundreds of workshops, presentations, and other events that will help school board members develop leadership skills, boost student learning, and improve school districts’ operations.

If your school district or organization has an idea for a high-quality breakout session that focuses on a topic of critical interest to school board members for presentation at this conference, please complete a proposal online by the deadline of Monday, June 16 at 5 p.m. EDT. Only proposals submitted through the online process  will be considered. Breakout sessions will be 30, 45, or 75 minutes in length and will be scheduled throughout the conference.

Proposals are being solicited for the following focus areas:

• Innovations in District Management
• Legal and Legislative Advocacy
• Professional and Personal Development
• School Board/Superintendent Partnerships
• Student Achievement and Accountability
• Technology + Learning Solutions

NSBA Executive Director tours successful schools, community partnerships in Cleveland

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel saw firsthand the successes of an urban school district during a tour of  high-performing schools in Cleveland last month.

Gentzel met with Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) CEO Eric Gordon and CMSD Board Chair Denise Link in addition to CMSD board members Willetta Milam and Robert Heard. Milam also sits on the steering committee for NSBA’s Council for Urban Boards of Education.

Gentzel was particularly impressed with the school district’s emphasis on student achievement and its innovative programs.

“I toured schools in an urban district that clearly is achieving significant gains in student achievement, thanks to a reform plan that enjoys broad community and political support,” said Gentzel. “I was especially impressed with the district leadership’s commitment to being held accountable in very public ways for their work.”

One school even had a “countdown clock” for student achievement, he added.

Other exceptional programs included dual-language elementary programs, a partnership with Cleveland State University, and the district’s pioneering partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Gentzel toured the museum with Ohio School Board Association Executive Director Rick Lewis to learn more about its curriculum, which integrates rock n’ roll into prek-12 lessons, from business to technology to English/language arts. A lesson might ask students to build a persuasive argument for their favorite band to be admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or teach business and contract management skills.

Lewis, for one, noted that  “a feeling of excitement and optimism for the future flourishes throughout the CMSD.”

“The Board of Education and community have collaborated to create several standout schools and programs that offer assurances for higher student achievement,” he said. “As you walk through the halls of these schools, you can’t help but feel the contagious spirit of faith and energy. The results of their transformational plan show that excellence is possible even in an urban district with enormous socio-economic challenges.”

Gentzel toured two top-performing schools, Buhrer Dual Language School and Campus International School on the campus of Cleveland State University.

Buhrer Dual Language School is a K-8 school with the first dual language education program in Ohio. All classes are taught in English and Spanish, and Buhrer students become proficient in both.  Students earn high school credit in Algebra I and Spanish I.

Situated on Cleveland State University’s downtown campus, Campus International School, is the only International Baccalaureate candidate school in the CMSD and prepares students in grades K-6 for international citizenship with a rigorous and comprehensive global curriculum. Each year the school adds a grade level until it will become a K-12 school.

“Our Board members and our CEO appreciated the opportunity to meet with Tom to discuss our school district’s ongoing transformation plan and our efforts to increase the number of high-performing schools in Cleveland,” said Link.



Joetta Sack-Min|April 2nd, 2014|Categories: Governance, Curriculum, High Schools, Urban Schools, Dropout Prevention, Assessment|Tags: , |

U.S. Department of Education study shows racial disparities in school suspensions

A new study released by the Department of Education shows African-American students as young as preschoolers are more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts—a statistic that the National School Boards Association (NSBA) calls “unacceptable.”

According to the report, “Black students represent 16% of the [K-12] student population, but 32-42% of students suspended or expelled. In comparison, white students also represent a similar range of between 31-40% of students suspended or expelled, but they are 51% of the student population.”

Read the snapshot of the study.

Reggie Felton, NSBA’s interim associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy deemed these rates “unacceptable” in an Associated Press story. Felton also brought up the NSBA’s awareness efforts and the importance of keeping students in school. NSBA has been working in local districts across the US to talk about the crisis in out-of-school suspensions, which are particularly harmful to students of color and students with special needs.

“Local school boards are addressing these issues in many states with elimination of zero tolerance policies and establishment of more effective policies,” Felton said.  “Local school boards also recognize the need to shift toward in-school suspension policies to ensure access to quality learning, even if students are removed from a specific classroom.”

Just last year, NSBA released a comprehensive policy guide for school boards addressing the out-of-school suspension crisis. The policy guide offers questions for policymakers, educators, and parents as well as case studies of capacity-building programs in districts where racial equity has been addressed.

As the NSBA report found in April 2013: “When students are forced to leave the school environment, they are denied an opportunity to learn. While overly harsh school discipline policies can affect all students, they have a disproportionate impact on students of color. Research shows that African American, Latino and Native American students, in particular, are far more likely to be suspended, expelled, and arrested than their white peers, even when accused of similar behavior.”

Read the policy guide: Addressing the Out-Of-School Suspension Crisis


Staff|March 21st, 2014|Categories: Governance, High Schools, Preschool Education, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, Discipline, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , |

National survey of high schools shows wide discipline disparities


A comprehensive survey of more than 72,000 K-12 schools serving 85 percent of the country has found that nearly one out of every five black male students received at least one out-of-school suspension during the 2009-10 school year — a rate three and a half times that of their peers.

The report, released this week by the Discipline Disparities Collaborative, headquartered at Indiana University, added more data to support the $200 million, five-year “My Brother’s Keeper” project, which was announced by President Obama last month to address the multiple problems facing young black men. At the same time, it highlighted what a number of forward-thinking schools and school districts across the country are doing to reduce the number of students they suspend and expel.

“When you suspend a student, what you’re basically saying is, ‘You’re not entitled to receive instruction,’” said Ramiro Rubalcaba, principal of Azuza High School northeast of Los Angeles, who spoke Thursday at news conference on the report.

Years ago, when he was a high school administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Rubalcaba was a self-described “skeptic” of disciplinary alternatives who once suspended 600 students in one year. But over several years at LAUSD’s Garfield High School and now at Azuza, Rubalcaba has helped change disciplinary policies, resulting in a sharp drop in the number of out-of-school suspensions. Last school year at Azusa High School, for example, there were more than 70-out-of-school suspensions: So far this school year there have been three.

“Schools have the power to change these rates of suspension and expulsion,” said Russell Skiba, director of Indiana University’s Equity Project, of which the collaborative is a part. He and other experts emphasized that the higher suspension rate of black students – as well as Hispanics, disabled students, Native American students, and LGBT students – is not because of higher rates of infractions by these groups. “The research simply does not support this belief,” he said.

NSBA is taking a leading role in the effort to reform school disciplinary procedures and reduce out-of-school suspensions. Last March NSBA  and its Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) — along with its Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native caucuses — issued Addressing the Out of School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members.

“School boards must take the lead in ensuring that out-of-school suspension is used as a last resort in addressing violations of school codes of conduct,” NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, said in the report. He also noted that school boards were already in the forefront of addressing these issues.

The collaborative’s report made several points about school discipline reform. The first is that improving schooling overall does not necessarily lead to a reduction in disciplinary disparities. Indeed, as Dan Losen, director UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies said at the news conference releasing the report, “You can’t close the achievement gap unless you close the discipline gap.”

NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members hosted a webinar in November 2013 titled Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline. On April 7, at NSBA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans, the caucus will also be hosting a breakout session titled We Can Do Better: Reforming School Discipline and Accountability. The session will highlight the work of Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools and the Broward County Public Schools in Florida.

Lawrence Hardy|March 14th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized, High Schools, Educational Research, School Security, Urban Schools, School Reform, Dropout Prevention, Discipline, CUBE|Tags: , |

Schools reversing Zero Tolerance policies

It was called the “broken windows” theory, and it shows — quite tragically, in some cases — how taking a social policy that might make sense in one context and applying it to another can have disastrous consequences.

The theory, popular with police departments and big-city mayors in the 1980s and 1990s, was that if police ignored petty crime – the broken windows of a neighborhood – these incidents would grow to create a climate where more serious crimes would occur.

Was the policy successful? That depends on whom you talk to. But big problems resulted when it was applied to the public schools.

“Some of the same crime policies filtered into the school system,” said Dwanna Nicole, Policy Advocate for the Advancement’s Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Program, who gave a webinar Thursday sponsored by her organization and NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members.

That policy, also spurred by the Columbine shootings and a mistaken fear that youth violence was increasing, has spawned the kind of zero tolerance policies that have resulted in huge spikes in the number of suspensions and expulsions for all students, but particularly for African-American and Hispanics students, students with disabilities, and gay students.

Now, however, in places like Denver, Buffalo, N.Y., and Broward County, Fla., those numbers are starting to turn around as more school districts embrace discipline polices that put the long-term needs of students first. The Denver Public Schools now have one of the most progressive discipline codes in the nation, Nicole said. This has been augmented by a recent state Smart School Discipline law and a brokered Memorandum of Understanding between law enforcement agencies and the school district.

While black students in Denver are still suspended at greater rates than whites, these numbers are going down. In 2010-2011 86 percent of black students did not have out-of-school suspensions. By 2012-13, 90 percent had no  suspensions.  Attendance rates for black and Hispanic students have also increased steadily since 2008.

Districts such as Denver are explicitly addressing racial disparities in suspensions, expulsions, and other forms of discipline and collecting better discipline records, Nicole said.

Lawrence Hardy|December 6th, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized, Bullying, High Schools, Diversity, School Climate, Data Driven Decision Making, Dropout Prevention, Discipline|Tags: , , , |

SAT results show minorities better prepared for college

Jim Hull, Senior Policy Analyst for the Center for Public Education (CPE) at the National School Boards Association, recently analyzed the latest batch of SAT scores for CPE’s blog, The Edifier:

While the overall flat nature of the scores are nothing to celebrate, a closer look at the latest SAT data shows public schools are doing a better job preparing poor and minority students for college according to the 2013 SAT Report on College Readiness released today.

Although scores for minority students have increased, it is important to point out that huge gaps remain between minority students and their white classmates. The results show that minority students are not completing the rigorous courses they need not only to score higher on the SAT but to prepare them to get into and succeed in college.

Just as the ACT showed last month, these results show schools need to double and even triple their efforts in making sure all students are adequately prepared for college-level work. To do so, high schools need to ensure that all students are taking the courses they need to succeed in college. Unfortunately, as CPE’s latest report Out of Sync found, most states do not require the courses students need to succeed in college as a high school graduation requirement. As more graduates plan on enrolling in college, it is more important than ever that a high school diploma represent a student who is ready for higher education, whether at a two or four-year institution. – Jim Hull

The Findings

National Scores

  • The nation’s graduating Class of 2013 had an average composite score of 1498, which is unchanged from 2012 (1500) but significantly lower than 2009 (1505).
    • At a score of 1498, an average high school graduate has about a 75 percent chance of getting admitted into a competitive four-year college.*
  • Scores remained unchanged in all three sections over the past year. Just as in 2012, scores were 496 in Critical Reading, 514 in Math, and 488 in Writing for 2013.
  • Scores improved for most racial/ethnic groups.
    • The average combined Hispanic student score was 1354 in 2013, which is three points higher than in 2012 and nine points lower than in 2008.
    • The average black student score was 1278 in 2013, which is five points higher than in 2012 and two points lower than in 2008.
    • The average white student score was 1576 in 2013, which is two points lower than in 2012 and three points lower than in 2008.

College Readiness

  • Nearly half (43 percent) of the test-takers met the SAT College-Ready Benchmark in 2013, which is unchanged from the year prior and slightly lower than in 2009 (44 percent).
    • The SAT College Ready Benchmarks represent a student who scores a combined 1550 or higher. Students hitting this benchmark have a 65 percent chance of earning a B-minus grade point average in their freshman year courses.
  • Minority students are less likely to be college ready.
    • Just 15.6 of black students and 23.5 percent of Hispanic students were college ready according to the SAT’s Benchmark.
    • However, both black and Hispanic students saw increases in reaching the SAT Benchmark from 2012 to 2013.

Core Course Rigor

  • Seventy-five percent of SAT test-takers completed the recommended “core” college-preparatory curriculum, which is an increase from 70 percent in 2001.
    • Just 66 percent of black students and 70 percent of Hispanic students completed the core curriculum, compared to 80 percent of white students.
    • However, both black and Hispanic students saw a one percentage point increase in core curriculum completion rates since 2012.
  • High school graduates who took math or English AP or Honors courses scored significantly higher than students who complete four or more year’s worth in each subject, not only in the relevant subject area, but in all three SAT sections.

Test Takers

  • Just over 1.66 million students from the Class of 2013 took the SAT sometime during their high school which was a slight dip from 2012.
  • Slightly more minority students are taking the SAT.
    • In 2013, 17 percent of SAT test-takers were Hispanic which was the same as in 2012, but greater than the 12 percent in 2008.
    • Thirteen percent of SAT test-takers were black in 2013 which was the same as in 2012, but greater than the 11 percent in 2008.
    • The percent of test-takers who were white continues to drop from 57 percent in 2008 to 51 percent in 2012 to just 50 percent in 2013.
  • A greater number of students whose first language isn’t English are taking the SAT.
    • In 2013 13 percent of SAT test-takers’ first language was not English compared to 9 percent in 2008.
  • The vast majority (82 percent) of SAT test-takers want to earn at least a Bachelor’s degree, up from 75 percent a decade ago.

For more information on how to use college entrance exam scores to evaluate your school, check out the Center’s Data First Website.

Alexis Rice|September 26th, 2013|Categories: High Schools, Center for Public Education, Student Achievement, Center for Public Education Update|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA and CTEq host Common Core graduation requirements Twitter chat at #CCSSGradReq

The new report released last week from Change the Equation (CTEq) and the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (CPE) examines the connection between state graduation requirements and Common Core State Standards in math. The report, “Out of Sync: Many Common Core states have yet to define a Common Core-worthy diploma,” found that of the 45 states that have voluntarily adopted Common Core, only 11 have aligned their graduation requirements in mathematics with those standards.

Join the conversation about graduation requirements and the Common Core, as CPE and CTEq will be hosting a Twitter chat on Tuesday, June 18 at 1 pm EDT. Use hashtag #CCSSGradReq to follow along.

Alexis Rice|June 17th, 2013|Categories: High Schools, Center for Public Education, Educational Research, 21st Century Skills, Center for Public Education Update, Common Core State Standards|Tags: , , |

High school graduation requirements are out of sync with Common Core, new report finds

A new report from Change the Equation (CTEq) and the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (CPE) examines the connection between state graduation requirements and Common Core State Standards in math. The report, “Out of Sync: Many Common Core states have yet to define a Common Core-worthy diploma,” found that of the 45 states that have voluntarily adopted Common Core, only 11 have aligned their graduation requirements in mathematics with those standards.

CPE and CTEq have compared states’ high school graduation requirements in math to the Common Core standards to see how well they align and determined that graduation requirements most likely to be aligned to the Common Core standards must include math in each year of high school and convey substantial content typically taught in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II classes. While 11 states are aligned, 13 are only partially aligned, leaving 22 states that have adopted the Common Core but lack corresponding graduation requirements that match the expectations of new standards. Even states whose graduation requirements appear to reflect the demands of the Common Core may still have much work to do to ensure that their high school course sequence and content is truly aligned to the standards.

“As states move toward implementation of Common Core, there are some pressing challenges arising such as the lack of alignment between graduation requirements and outcomes defined by the standards” said Change the Equation CEO Linda P. Rosen. “In order to ensure that a high school diploma is meaningful, states and school districts must transform their expectations to ensure that all students can learn the content called for in Common Core.

“Developing strong educational standards and graduation requirements are important for improving student achievement and success,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA. “Common Core State Standards provide an opportunity for states and local school districts to reexamine the graduation requirements they are setting for their students.”

CPE and CTEq will host a conference call for media on Thursday, June 13, at 1:00 p.m. EDT and a Twitter chat on Tuesday, June 18 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. Use hashtag #CCSSGradReq to follow along.

Last month, NSBA and other major organizations representing school administrators called for “adequate time” transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the assessment requirements.

Alexis Rice|June 12th, 2013|Categories: High Schools, Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Common Core State Standards|Tags: , , , |

CUBE speaker: Reduce dropouts through grading policies, other strategies

School boards looking for a roadmap to reduce dropouts need to assert their authority regarding grading policies and create strategies to help students recover from various kinds of failure, East Baton Rouge Superintendent Bernard Taylor Jr. said at a Friday session sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education.

“For some students, school is about despair, not hope and opportunity,” Taylor said. That’s particularly common among boys, who are 30 percent more likely than girls to drop out of school.

But schools can create policies and programs to turn that around and get better results, Taylor said in a presentation entitled “Reclaiming Those with Promise.” In his former district, Michigan’s Green Rapids Public Schools, the number of schools making adequate yearly progress jumped from 26 to 49 over five years.

One crucial area is grading policy, he said. If you ask a teacher why a given student received a given grade, “You will hear this: ‘I have the right to give this student the grade I think he or she deserves.’”

To which Taylor replies: “Who sets the grading policy for the district?”

It’s the school board, of course. “If your grading policy is creating your failure problem, and your failure problem is creating your dropout problem, you have to look at whether you are shooting yourself in the foot with your policies or the interpretation of those policies.”

Some common dropout factors include poor attendance, disengagement from school, and lack of emotional support. For that reason, school leaders ought to stop concentrating on student-teacher ratio and instead put a priority on “caring adult to student ratio.”

While one traditional approach to address failure has been summer school, a key element of success involves having the right personnel for such programs, Taylor said. “If you are employing the same people who failed the children during the school year, you are making a critical mistake.”

He also suggested outsourcing of guidance and other forms of counseling can improve results.
Regardless of what kinds of interventions your district uses, be sure there are metrics to assess results. If that’s missing, “don’t pay for it.”

— Eric Randall

Erin Walsh|April 12th, 2013|Categories: School Boards, High Schools, Urban Schools, Dropout Prevention, CUBE, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , |
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