I was recently invited to represent ISA at the first ever White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools. The event highlighted students, educators, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs who are reinventing the high school experience to better prepare students for college and careers. ISA was selected for participation based on its decade-long record of proven results working with high schools that serve predominantly low income and students of color. I began my remarks by stating that it is not unusual to hear people from all walks of life, including students themselves, tell you that high school is much too late to prepare struggling students for college and careers. I went on to share that ISA has successfully challenged this assumption with the strong student performance outcomes from high schools implementing the ISA whole school reform model.
ISA partner schools and districts are not alone in the challenging work of turning around schools. They consistently state that having access to the organization’s expertise, experience, and resources is one of the key factors in their ability to build their own capacity to create learning environments that make it possible for every child to make significant academic, social, and emotional progress. “There is a great deal of logic behind a district choosing to work with the ISA whole school reform model,” says Phillip Lovell, Vice President Policy and Advocacy, Alliance for Excellent Education. “The team’s continuous, in-depth support for school leaders, teachers, counselors, students, and families is a game changer that can make the difference between successful school transformation and yet another disappointing effort.”
The ISA whole school reform model is built on a solid research base of effective principles and strategies that have been developed over more than two decades. We are honored to have been invited to this inaugural White House Summit on next generation high schools and to have our accomplishments acknowledged at the national level. However, our work is certainly not done. ISA has committed over the next five years to enter into partnerships with school districts across the country so that it can triple from 25,000 to 75,000 the number of students who have access to college prep STEM and Career Technical Education. Continuing our emphasis on researched-based practices, we have also pledged to work with 10 high schools to embed the teaching and learning of non-cognitive skills such as persistence, into the core academics so that students apply their non-cognitive learnings to their actual academic work. Together, ISA and its partners will continue to use the whole school reform model to prove that high school is definitely not too late for deep, meaningful and sustainable change.