E.D. Assesses Attributes of Successful High Schools

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WASHINGTON—Successful high schools have qualities similar to those that researchers have identified in "effective" elementary schools, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett said last weekend.

Disclosing preliminary results from a survey of the 571 public high schools that were singled out in the Education Department's Secondary School Recognition Program, Mr. Bennett emphasized in particular the importance of a strong principal.

"A good principal can make a good school out of a bad school," he said.

Mr. Bennett spoke in Las Vegas at the convention of the National School Boards Association. His office here released a prepared text of his remarks.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Bennett appeared in Anaheim, Calif., at the convention of the National Catholic Educational Association.

Responding to reporters' questions there, he conceded that the Congress would not pass his compensatory-education voucher proposal—his top legislative priority—in this session.

"We're winning the war but we're losing the battle," said Mr. Bennett, claiming that grassroots support and continued debate on the voucher bill would swing opponents to his side.

But for now, he said, "I would be foolish and silly to think" that the Democratic-controlled House Education and Labor Committee "is going to recommend passage."

School-Boards Speech

Mr. Bennett's speech to the school-boards association, which strongly opposes his plan to convert federal remedial-education aid into vouchers for parents, drew upon themes that he has stressed since the publication last month of the "What Works" booklet for parents and others on ways to improve children's academic success.

Since its release at a March 4 White House ceremony, Mr. Bennett has emphasized the need to return "common sense" to the schools and has argued that more money alone cannot improve education.

Praising "success stories"—examples of blighted inner-city high schools that communities have transformed into nationally recognized education institutions-Mr. Bennett cited six characteristics common to "effective" high schools.

The characteristics are: a strong principal, discipline, good teachers, high expectations and high standards, parental and community involvement, and a positive school climate.

Most effective-schools research has focused on the elementary school, Mr. Bennett noted.

The characteristics researchers have identified in effective elementary schools are: a clearly understood school mission; close monitoring of student progress; teachers who communicate high expectations to students; a safe and orderly school climate; and a strong principal who maintains the role of instructional leader.

Vol. 05, Issue 29, Page 11

Published in Print: April 9, 1991, as E.D. Assesses Attributes of Successful High Schools
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