High School Reform

Nicole Kraudy, Ben Vaske, Jonah Hobbs, Erika Anderson

High School Reform

Why is it commonly believed that the high school education system in America is guilty of not properly providing its students with the skills and information needed to prepare them for success in the modern world? While school systems seem to be falling short in several areas, primary offenses include unfocused and outdated curriculum, disadvantageous scheduling, and poor distribution of expenses.



  • Improved student performance demands school transformation. High schools in America have not provided students with adequate skills by the curriculum they offer that is demanded in the 21st century.


  • For decades the three R's, (reading, writing, and arithmetic), provided the foundation for school curriculum.
  • In the modern world, the R's that have become relevant, (rigor, relationships, relevance), provide students of today's era with a more focused and developed skill-base that is improved for the realities of the 21st century.


  • Teachers have been "programmed" to teacher the same subject, year after year, without much change in the common curriculum.
  • The commonality poses a problem as the world changes and the learning methods grow old and out of style.
  • Education in America needs to improve the focus of teaching styles and curriculum to maximize student learning and developing along with the developments of modern society.


  • Medical research documents changes in adolescent circadian rhythm. Melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep, starts being produced at 11:00 p.m. and is turned off around 8:00 a.m.
  • An estimated 85% of high school students are sleep deprived, affecting reaction times, alertness, concentration, and emotion.
  • Calculations show that pushing back start times would overwhelmingly outweigh any costs school systems would face.
  • The impact of later start times on grades is equivalent to an extra two months of schooling.
  • Teachers from schools that have implemented later start times have reported students as more alert during class and more engaged in class discussions.


  • Year round schooling eliminates the three-month summer break and rather has many shorter breaks scattered throughout the school year
  • Number of public schools with year-round schooling increased 26% from the 2006-2007 school year to the 2011-2012 school year
  • Students typically still attend school for roughly the same amount of days per year
  • Classes typically run for six to nine weeks, followed by a short break
  • Research has shown that a year-round schedule helps prevent much of the learning loss that comes from a typical 10-week summer break



  • Contributes to more effective annual spending choices
  • Requires predicted outcomes to be established
  • Requires empirical means of assessing effectiveness
  • Ultimately leads to a more strategic simplification of effort while increasing student and program success


  • Develop a strict philosophy that requires justification for every program and any expected returns, and a means to measure returns
  • Review very program in the district
  • Recognize that the school or district does not have to do what other districts and schools do


  • Program evaluation is an integral part of the budget development process.
  • Every program in a school or district should have a stated expected return and be measured empirically rather than through anecdotal support


  • Local Control Accountability Plan
  • Creates a unique opportunity to do just that and ensure that student success is at the center of planning, budgeting and ultimately programming at the local level
  • Links community engagement opportunities to the board budget cycle
  • Explore new engagement approaches
  • Commit to making adjustments as necessary

Works Cited

Conan, Neal. "Analysis: Minneapolis High Schools Change Their Start times to Almost an Hour and a Half Later than They Previously Started to See How It Affects Students."

Weekly Edition: The Best of NPR News 30 Dec. 2000: n. pag. EBSCOhost. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

Cooper, Kelt L. "Budgeting Based on Results." Education Digest 2011: 4-8. ProQuest. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

Jacob, Brian A., and Jonah E. Rockoff. "Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments." Education Digest Apr. 2012: 28-33. ProQuest. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

Jester, Erin. "One Room Begins Second Year of Year-round School." Gainesville Sun 23 July 2014: n. pag. ELibrary. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

Kathy, FInlayson J. "Perceptions of Career Technical Education by Middle School and High School Counselors and the Effect of These Perceptions on Student Choice of Career and

Education Planning." Diss. Union U, 2009. Order No. 3394946 (2009): n. pag. ProQuest. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

"Popularity Grows Anew For Year-Round Schools." Education Week 8 Oct. 2014: 6. ELibrary. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

Tran, Samantha. "Putting Student Success at the Center of Planning and Budgeting." Leadership 2014: 32-35. ProQuest. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

Wahlstrom, Kyla L. "Sleep Research Warns: Don't Start High School Without The Kids!" High School Magazine Sept. 2000: 15-16. ProQuest. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.