Smaller Learning Communities Program

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From Information to Action: A Guide to Using Postsecondary Data to Improve Students’ Chances for Postsecondary Success
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Developed by The Millennium Group and FHI360, From Information to Action provides school administrators, community stakeholders, and institutions of higher education (IHE) with guidance and context for collecting, analyzing and using student postsecondary education data to support student access to and success in postsecondary education. In addition to describing the current research and policy context, the guide shares primary sources of administrative data that are currently available to schools; brief profiles of efforts to secure detailed data on students’ postsecondary progress and outcomes from local IHEs, and examples of schools leveraging partnerships with IHEs to support student success in both places. Equally important is the guide’s description of a process for framing questions for inquiry, identifying the data needed to answer them, and making a request for data compliant with legal protection of student records.

Harnessing Teacher Knowledge: A Guide to Developing School-Based Systems for Professional Learning and Planning.

This guide features resources for use during teacher common planning time. The guide includes a rubric, planning worksheets, a facilitators guide and other essential resources for developing, assessing and improving teacher collaborative work in schools.

Harnessing Teacher Knowledge: A Guide to Developing School-Based Systems for Professional Learning and Planning download files PDF (525K)

  • Getting Up and Running Quickly: Ten Things School Leaders Can Do
    download files PDF (525K)
  • Facilitator Guide download files PDF (525K)
  • Getting Started With Protocols download files PDF (525K)
  • High-Impact Meetings download files PDF (525K)
  • How You Know It's Working download files PDF (525K)
  • Readings and Resources download files PDF (525K)

From Aspirations to Action: Increasing Postsecondary Readiness for Underrepresented Students download files PDF (525K) January 2011

This resource toolkit features resources that were selected based upon their accessibility and their successful use by SLCP grantees as a foundation for their college readiness activities or their successful alignment with these activities.

Learning in Action: How to Conduct and Learn from High-Quality Site Visits

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June 2010

Grantees of the Smaller Learning Communities Program (SLCP) often choose to use a portion of their grant funds to learn from other schools as they search for successful models and strategies that can be applied in their own school. To help schools plan a thoughtful, coordinated site visit, the Great Schools Partnership and the Academy for Educational Development developed this guide to help schools look at the right programs, investigate the evidence of success, and follow up with a practical strategy for sharing and implementing what they have learned with colleagues at their own school. This guide is designed to offer practical guidance in a user-friendly format so that the visits will be an informative and powerful collaborative professional learning experience. Key components include guiding principles for success, checklists for both visiting teams and host schools, and recommended site visit schedules.

Learning in Action Toolkit: Resources to Use in Planning and Conducting High-Quality Site Visits download files PDF (525K)
June 2010

The Great Schools Partnership and the Academy for Educational Development selected this collection of resources to support the learning, planning, and teamwork required to school site visits as described in Learning in Action: How to Conduct and Learn from High-Quality Site Visits. The resources are organized to support the steps in planning and participating in a school site visit. Many of the resources are readily found on the SLC website and are aligned with the priorities of the Smaller Learning Communities Program (SLCP). Together, the guide and resource toolkit ensure that visiting teams have a more robust professional development experience when visiting a school. While the primary target-user for the resources is the site-visit team, additional users are identified for each resource. The toolkit consists of more than 30 descriptions of resources, including when and how to use the resources and other helpful tips for success.

Writing Goals and Objectives: A Guide for Grantees of the Smaller Learning Communities Program download files PDF (525K) June 2010

Developed by the Center for Secondary School Redesign and the Academy for Educational Development, this guide supports grantees of the Smaller Learning Communities Program (SLCP) in reaching their desired outcomes by strengthening both their goal-setting and implementation processes. The guide has two sections: the first section provides an overview of each goal-setting and implementation step; the second section provides resources and information to help sites develop each step and create a rigorous goal-setting process within their schools and districts. Tips and guidance aimed at SLCP grantees are given throughout the document.


Adolescent Literacy

Addressing the "Crisis" in Adolescent Literacy download files PDF (525K)

Terry Salinger

At the most fundamental level, the gist of the crisis in adolescent literacy is that the literacy skills of many students in grades 4 to 12 are so alarmingly low that the students have difficulty meeting the academic challenges of high school and are ill prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce. In this paper, the author outlines some considerations districts and schools should take into account as they develop new literacy plans to address the crisis.

The Correlates of Middle School Teachers' Professional Development Implementation, Instructional Beliefs, and Student Reading Achievement download files PDF (525K)

Kelly Feighan, Elizabeth Heeren, and Jill Feldman

Drawing on research conducted in urban middle schools, the authors describe the relationship between the faithful implementation of instructional strategies for struggling readers and student outcomes. They highlight the implications of their research for districts and schools that seek to support their struggling students by providing professional development to teachers on integrating literacy strategies in the core academic content areas.

Meeting the Gold Standard: Preparation of Middle and High School Literacy Coaches in the Field download files PDF (525K)

Brenda Joiner Overturf and Latricia Posey Bronger

In this paper, the authors describe a collaborative effort to train literacy coaches by the University of Louisville and a consortium of Kentucky middle and high schools in seven rural school districts. The paper reviews the research basis for literacy coaching, describes the lessons learned by the Kentucky project, and offers recommendations for districts and institutions of higher education who may want to collaborate to develop similar professional development programs.

On-Model Implementation of Adolescent Literacy Programs and Sustaining Their Effects download files PDF (525K)

Terry Salinger

This paper discusses the practical issues associated with the successful implementation of adolescent literacy interventions at the district and individual school level. Implementing these interventions “on-model”–that is, carrying them out in a way that adheres to their core principles–increases the likelihood that they will be effective. However, many factors at the district and school level can often make “on-model” implementation challenging. Drawing on research from a variety of sources, the author offers recommendations for how districts and schools can master these challenges.

Common Planning Time

Common Planning: A Linchpin Practice in Transforming Secondary Schools download files PDF (525K)

Nettie Legters, Dia Adams, and Patrice Williams

Common planning is a reform that is emerging as an essential component of high performing schools. While recognizing that no one reform holds the key to improving schools, the authors of this paper argue that common planning is a linchpin practice in transforming secondary schools—an underutilized yet critical strategy necessary to creating learning environments that proactively identify and address the diverse and changing needs of adolescent learners. This paper elaborates on the promise and challenges of common planning and offers recommendations for stronger, more widespread implementation of the practice.

Dual Enrollment

Dual Enrollment: Lessons Learned on School-Level Implementation download files PDF (525K)

Lauren Cassidy, Kaeli Keating, and Viki Young

Dual enrollment is a strategy that more and more districts and schools are using to advance the high school curriculum and promote college for a wide range of students. However, dual enrollment programs can be challenging to implement. High school-college partnerships, articulation, funding, and student access and supports are all critical areas to address in order to implement these programs successfully. In this synthesis of findings from research on dual enrollment, the authors identify lessons learned and potential solutions to overcoming common barriers to implementing dual enrollment programs.

The Experiential Dual‐Enrollment Program: Building a College‐Going Culture for First‐Generation Youth and Families download files PDF (525K)

Pamela Fisher and Stephen Abbott

Dual enrollment programs are rapidly becoming a popular strategy for engaging disadvantaged, underserved and first‐generation youth in addition to promoting higher educational aspirations among students from communities and families with little or no college‐going history. This paper explores dual enrollment as a strategy for promoting reform at the secondary level and provides a variety of practical strategies for building successful school-based dual enrollment programs that integrate on-campus college experiences.

English Language Learners

Middle-to-High School Transition for English Language Learners: Promising School-Based Practices download files PDF (525K)

Julia Lara and Shelley Harford

This paper examines the nexus among three current areas of concern for secondary educators and policymakers: restructuring high schools into small learning communities; supporting the transition of students into the ninth grade; and instructing English language learners (ELLs). By providing descriptive information gathered from seven high schools located in various urban districts across the country, the authors highlight high school practices that are effectively helping ELL students transition from the middle to the high school level.

Multi-District Collaboration

Opening the Classroom Doors: A Multidistrict Model for Collaborative Instructional Improvement download files PDF (525K)

Mary Hastings, Mark Kostin, and Gerry Crocker

Collaboration across schools holds the promise of not only conserving resources, but of providing educators with critical supports and political cover to make sweeping changes. To be effective at collaboration, however, schools must work at it, to the point of considering embedding new strategies into their school cultures. Drawing on the experience of a consortium of five high schools that worked together to implement a Smaller Learning Communities grant, the authors describe the ten key elements associated with the schools’ successful collaborative efforts.

Preparation for Postsecondary Education

Beyond Survival: Off-Track High School Students Can Succeed in College and Career download files PDF (525K)

Leslie Rennie-Hill and Amy Parkhurst

Emerging research and promising new program models are providing new insights on how best to help “off-track” students–youth who are two or more years behind their peers–not only graduate from high school, but also to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. In this paper, the authors describe two model partnerships that exemplify different approaches to helping “off-track” students succeed.

Building a Pathway to the Future: Maximizing High School Guidance and Advisory Support download files PDF (525K)

Anna Fazekas and Constancia Warren

High schools have a critical role to play both in preparing students for postsecondary academic success and facilitating students' transition into postsecondary education and training. In this paper, the authors describe an integrated, building-wide approach to creating a college-going culture and providing students with the support they need to plan and prepare for postsecondary education. The paper highlights some promising models implemented by a variety of different types of schools, as well as tools that will be useful to other schools interested in emulating their examples.

Youth Mentoring

Implementing Effective Youth Mentoring Relationships for High School Students download files PDF (525K)

Cindy Sturtevant Borden

Research has shown the importance of caring adults in the lives of children and youth. Mentoring provides an alternative for youth whose parents are unable to fulfill a mentoring role and serves as an additional resource for youth whose parents are engaged in their lives. Although mentoring has traditionally been an intervention geared more toward younger students, it holds unrealized potential in serving high school students. In this paper, the author explores the fundamentals of effective youth mentoring and highlights lessons learned that will be useful to districts and schools interested in establishing and improving mentoring programs for high school students.

Last Modified: 06/13/2013