All schools have tried and are trying to improve the quality of their service in different ways:new teaching methods,upgraded facilities,personnel and professional learning,parent/family involvement and so one.
My opinion is that they can do a much better job by using project based education,interdisciplinary learning and by engaging better their students parents in the educational process.
I was very active in all schools my son attended by initiating and coaching science clubs and robotics teams because I believe that "it needs a village to raise a child".Here is a short video from a science club I have started with another parent a Science teacher:
Unfortunately,it was not always that easy.Everybody talks about the necessity to improve the education system but there is a lot of resistance to make this happen.This is not the place to discuss this problem but I am a strong advocate of parents involvement in the education system.
How can we do that? There are many resouces we can access online these days and on of the best I have found is the www.greatschools.org web site. I have found them while searching for project based learning information and they have a nice "Find a School" feature that can help many parents.
How can such a school look like? Here is one example that really impressed me.
The High Tech High organization (k-12) from San Diego have over 3,000 students and I have learned about them from "The Global Achievement Gap",an excellent book written by Tony Wagner.Here is a short excerpt that will motivate you to read this book and to learn more about HTH.
" The HTH schools have gained international recognition for their highly innovative education practices and for their results. Since graduating its first class in 2003, 100 percent of High Tech High students have been accepted to college-80 percent to four-year colleges, including Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Stanford, Howard, University of Southern California, University of California at Berkeley, NYU, and Northwestern.
More than half of HTH grads are first-generation college students, including some who are the first in their family to complete high school(...)
All this is accomplished on the $6,200-per-student operating budget that the state provides charter schools.
The national average of college graduates who get a technical degree from college is 15 percent. High Tech High's is 27 percent(...). But High Tech High does not track students by ability or offer any Advanced Placement courses in its academic program.
Although the California accountability system (called the Academic Performance Index) reports the HTH test scores as among the highest in the state, the schools steadfastly refuse to teach to these tests, in the belief that doing so would dilute their curriculum.
Test-prep simply has no place at High Tech High. Nor do textbook driven, stand-alone courses such as 9th grade English, world history, chemistry, and so on that have defined the high school experience for a century. Instead, all academic content (with the exception of 11th and 12th grade math and science) is taught through interdisciplinary projects-and even the science and math classes are organized around project-based learning, rather than based on textbooks.
To pass from one grade to the next, students have to show samples of their work, collected in digital portfolios, to a panel of teachers, students, and other adults from outside the school. They must also complete a ten-week internship in llth grade, and a senior project, in order to graduate."
Don`t get me wrong,I do not advertise this school and I am sure there might be many others that have a similar approach to the education process.This is just an example that I hope other schools will follow.
If you have other examples of innovative schools like this one do not hesitate to let me know through the FEEDBACK page.I will be more than happy to present them here.