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Smaller Learning Communities (V-D-4)
Several studies have concluded that students attending smaller high schools are more engaged and, consequently, experience higher levels of attendance, academic achievement, and involvement in extracurricular activities .Whether large high schools can be restructured to achieve the same results has been less frequently examined. This program supports local efforts to create smaller learning communities within large high schools.
How It Works
This competitive grant program provides grants to school districts to create smaller learning communities in large high schools.
Grantees may use their funding for a wide range of activities including: (1) studying the feasibility of creating smaller learning communities; (2) researching, developing, and implementing strategies for creating smaller learning communities; (3) providing professional development for school staff in innovative teaching methods that can be used in smaller learning communities; and (4) developing and implementing strategies to involve parents, business representatives, and community organizations in activities of the smaller learning communities so that teachers may pursue professional development opportunities and to provide links between students and the community.
How It Achieves Quality
Previous research suggests that students in smaller schools perform better on several indicators than students in large schools. This occurs, it is argued, because smaller schools offer a more personal learning environment that is better able to engage students. The smaller learning communities program attempts to replicate the qualities of smallness in larger high schools. It supports strategies to (1) restructure the high school by creating academies, houses, schools-within-a school, and (2) engage students through teacher advisors, mentoring, alternative scheduling, and other innovations designed to personalize high school and thereby, improve student achievement.
How Performance Is Measured
School improvement is measured by tracking changes in test scores, attendance, graduation rates, and student course-taking.