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    Summarizing Where We Are With Re-Visioning High School
    Posted on 11/16/2016
    "Eliminating opportunity gaps and ensuring educational excellence for each and every student is the issue of our time."

    Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland

    "We live in an innovation economy. In this new world, the skills necessary to do well professionally have converged with the skills needed to be an effective citizen . . . now, adults need to be able to ask great questions, critically analyze information, form independent opinions, collaborate, and communicate effectively." 

    From Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith

    Taking stock of where we stand

    Seattle Public Schools is committed to preparing students for success in the twenty-first century, and believe that our high schools can be transformed to prepare each and every student to participate as empowered members of our global community. Decades-long achievement gaps show that we are not providing equity of opportunity for each and every student, in particular our students of color.  Our students often leave us without clear goals and a roadmap for what they hope to accomplish in their lives.  

    As a district we have made a commitment to dismantling the institutionalized racism that creates the gaps in opportunities and success for our students of color, and to creating learning communities where all of our students can develop the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual health and strengths necessary for success. 

    High School re-visioning is at the heart of our commitment to ensuring that every student is prepared for college, career, and citizenship. Below is a summary of some of the exciting work taking place in Washington and in our own Seattle High Schools to make sure that we are preparing students to reach their fullest potential.  

    New State Regulations

    In 2014, the Washington State Board of Education (SBE) recommended, and the Legislature passed, a bill changing the state’s high school graduation requirements to more closely align with college, career, and citizenship readiness. Among other changes, the SBE recommended that Washington state high school students: 

    1. Earn 24 credits instead of 20

    2. Complete a detailed High School and Beyond Plan to guide their high school decisions
    3. Be given flexibility to follow a personalized pathway to meet the graduation requirements

    Innovation in Seattle

    Next year’s ninth graders (Fall 2017), the class of 2021, will be the first class of Seattle High School students to graduate having met these new expectations. Our high schools will need to make some changes in supports and structures to make sure that every student can graduate successfully.  

    A team of school staff, families, and students met during the 2015-2016 school year to develop initial recommendations for making the changes needed to ensure that our high school students receive a true twenty-first century education. Their recommendations were:

    1. All students develop high school and beyond plans to help them plan their learning
    2. All students experience a supportive advising experience
    3. School communities rethink the traditional six period day in order to give students more opportunities to earn credits toward graduation
    4. School communities explore new ways for students to master ideas and skills and earn credits, including digital learning and innovative approaches to career and technical education learning

    Community Engagement

    To make sure that every member of the community had a voice in these recommendations, the team also did the following:

    • Held 19 student focus groups at nine high schools involving more than 650 students 
    • Sent family surveys to middle and high school families (and open to elementary families) with over 1,500 respondents 
    • Held two community meetings to gather additional feedback

    So what now?

    This year a team of secondary leaders, the high school re-visioning work group, is meeting regularly to map out how we will move forward to plan with school staff, central office, our labor partners, students, and you, our families, to put these recommendations into practice.  

    We look forward to dreaming ambitiously with our students, staff, and you our families as we plan to put these recommendations into action, and we will communicate with you regularly and seek your feedback as we bring these dreams to life.

    Watch the video below to catch the spirit of our re-visioning work!