Schools-Within-Schools Model Seen Yielding Trade-Offs
The idea that many U.S. high schools are too large and impersonal to serve students well has gained considerable credence in research and policy circles.
But starting over from scratch with thousands of small, stand-alone high schools is also often seen as expensive and impractical. As a result, many districts in recent years have pursued the cheaper option of simply breaking up their large high schools into smaller schools within schools.
A new book tells a cautionary tale about that understudied alternative, training its sights on five high schools examined closely over time. What emerges is largely a story of the differences between theory and reality, of what can go wrong if school officials aren’t careful, and of many missed opportunities to make the most of a smaller learning environment. Probably the single most salient finding of Schools Within Schools: Possibilities and Pitfalls of High School Reform is that the approach led to increased stratification of students by race, academic ability, and socioeconomic status. The authors also describe as surprisingly rare the cases of instructional innovation tied...
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