A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Prisoners of Time - Schools and Programs Making Time Work - September 1994
Fairdale High School
Creating a flexible system to target time and teachers on students as needed.
Fairdale High School in Kentucky is a magnet career academy specializing in fire sciences, emergency medical services, law enforcement, legal and medical office technologies, and radio electronic communications. It is also a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools, a reform network of more than 150 member schools in 30 states. The Coalition was established in 1984 by Theodore Sizer at Brown University to redesign the American high school for better student learning and achievement.
Fairdale has committed itself to the nine "Common Principles" of the Coalition of Essential Schools. The principles are a broad call for schools to set clear and simple goals about the intellectual skills and knowledge to be mastered by all students; to lower teacher/student loads, personalize teaching, and make student work the center of classroom activity; to award diplomas based on student exhibitions of their work; to develop trust and respect among all the school's constituencies; and to do all of this with no more than a 10 percent increase in school budgets. The principles, in brief, are these:
- The school should focus on helping adolescents learn to use their minds well.
- The school's goals should be simple, for example, that each student master a limited number of essential skills and areas of knowledge.
- The school's goals should apply to all students, while the means to the goals should vary as students themselves vary.
- Teaching and learning should be personalized.
- The governing practical metaphor of the school should be student-as-worker, rather than the more familiar metaphor of teacher-as-deliverer-of-instructional-services.
- Students entering secondary school studies are those who can show competence in language and elementary mathematics.
- The tone of the school should explicitly and self-consciously stress values of "unanxious" expectation, trust, and decency.
- The principal and teachers should perceive themselves as generalists first and specialists second.
- Administrative and budget targets should include substantial time for collective planning by teachers, competitive salaries, and per-pupil costs not to exceed that of traditional schools by more than 10 percent.
As part of its restructuring effort under the Coalition banner, Fairdale has spent a lot of time worrying about how to use time. Fairdale provides:
- a daily 25-minute advisory period during which students receive tutoring, guidance, and personal attention;
- three ninth grade "collaborative learning community arrangements" in which five to seven teachers assess, schedule, and evaluate 130 students -- a flexible system to target time and teachers on students as needed;
- joint programs (tech prep) with nearby Jefferson College to permit Fairdale students to earn two-year associate degrees;
- service learning as a graduation requirement;
- student and teacher networking with other restructuring high schools; and
- creation of a pilot "house" -- 400 students (9th through 12th grade), 27 teachers, a counselor and an assistant principal -- to personalize education within a more autonomous, self-contained unit.
For additional information:
Fairdale High School
1001 Fairdale Road
Fairdale, KY 40118
[Carl Sandburg Intermediate School]
[Independence High School]