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$1.7-Million High-School Reform Effort Launched

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Washington--The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Atlantic Richfield Foundation, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals last week inaugurated a $1.7-million grants program to improve the quality of instruction and administration in U.S. high schools.

"This is a historic moment," Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation and author of the recently released 355-page study High School, said during a televised news conference seen here and in seven other major cities. "The grant program we are launching today will provide an investment in leadership at the local level. The goal is to involve principals, parents, and teachers in the process of school reform."

The program, which will be conducted in two phases, will be sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation, administered by naasp, and funded by Atlantic Richfield, Mr. Boyer explained.

Early this month, the high-school principals' group will mail applications to all public high schools in the country, encouraging them to apply for 200 grants of $3,000 each to finance discussions between school boards, faculty members, and parents about school objectives and improvement efforts. Mr. Boyer said that the winning high schools "will be the ones which submit ideas that are considered the most highly promising and beneficial for school progress."

The proposals, he continued, should:

Advance one or more of the 12 priorities for school improvement identified in the Carnegie Foundation study, which was released in September. For example, the report urged that large, comprehensive high schools reorganize themselves into smaller "schools-within-schools" and that prospective teachers major in an academic subject rather than in education. (See Education Week, Sept. 21, 1983.)

Have potential for improving the school system for all students.

Strengthen school leadership as it relates to the instructional program.

According to Scott Thomson, executive director of nassp, applications are due back to his organization by Jan. 15. The 200 winning schools will be notified by early April.

The second phase of the program will be launched next fall with a round of grants of up to $200,000 to approximately 20 schools "to implement and test recommendations from the Carnegie report on classrooms and administrative changes," said William M. Marcussen, president of the Atlantic Richfield Foundation.

He noted that the overall funding of $2.5 million to the Carnegie Foundation was the largest single grant in the history of the Atlantic Richfield Foundation.

"In our report, we say that 'Today, America has the best opportunity it will have to improve the schools,"' Mr. Boyer said. "But this special opportunity can be lost if in our push toward school reform, teachers and parents fail to participate in the process.

"That's why I feel so strongly that the action phase of the programs that we are announcing today is vital," he continued. "By giving grants to schools, we move from talk to action and involve those whose opinions and whose decisions matter most."--tm

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