Friday, October 23, 2009

Community Service Research Links

Our Career Academy Design Team members are busy researching how other schools structure and administer their community service requirements. Below are some of those links. I will continue to update this as they come in.

Jessica Johnston:
“My mom teaches in RI, so I asked her about their Senior Projects, and if you get a chance, please check out these websites, rubrics, and project descriptions. Rhode Island only started requiring this, so I am not familiar with any of this even though I graduated from a HS in RI; but these projects are VERY different from what we are proposing to do as Rhode Island's demands are not to do applicative course-related experiences BUT 20 hours of community service from 9-11th grade and then a large research project in 12th grade called "Senior Project". However, their website gives us some ideas about how to do "rubrics". Their Seniors also have to submit Senior Portfolios, so it's worth a look at that too. Ok, here are the links:”

Here's the school district's website
under teaching and learning there's a drop down menu for rubrics and graduation requirements, but I didn't see anything for the senior projects.

Here's a link on RI dept of efducation about senior projects. ( I did a search on RIDE website.)

Here's the pdf document from Ri dept of ed.

Meredith Westfall:

Erik Bunker:
“I came across this school which incorporates a senior seminar into their capstone project. It was designed to enrich the senior thesis experience by providing students with a forum to discuss philosophy of art as language.
Sounds good, check it out.”

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Meetings 2 and 3 Recap: Gaining Direction and Planning for Implementation

I wanted to update you on the status of Design 21 as the Design Teams are completing their third round of meetings. Thus far, we have focused on defining the mission and identifying the core skills that will guide the redesign (Click here to view this document). With this working draft complete, we are now shifting our focus from mission creation to planning for implementation.

As we began to craft these plans, I can’t help but draw the comparison to the summer of 1787, when 55 delegates gathered in Philadelphia to form a “more perfect union.” Their discussions were heated and their concerns were many. The sheer enormity of the task and the differences of their autonomous states could easily have torn the convention apart. Thankfully, despite the multitude of challenges, the vision and creativity of our founding fathers was up to the task. Through that crucible, they created a new nation which extended the promise of democracy across a span of time and geography once thought impossible.

We are experiencing our own constitutional convention of sorts. The 60 faculty delegates to Design 21 are working on forming a more perfect Weymouth High School. Our discussions are heated and our concerns are many. At the top of the list:
How will the Career Academies handle students who want to switch academies or those who transfers into the district?
How will we create new courses for these Career Academies with little to no funding for textbooks?
How will we balance the graduation requirements so that all Career Academies are equally rigorous?
How will we deal with under and over subscription in the academies?

If the founding fathers could overcome time and geography, we can overcome these problems and more. In fact, we are already seeing the fruits of our labor as creative new ideas are emerging each meeting. To view a running list of these, please click here.

Much like the preamble written at Philadelphia, Design 21 rests on the notion of “We the Faculty.” As such, rest assured that the work of Design 21 will go before the faculty for ratification upon the completion of our convention. To stay informed, you can follow our minutes at and use Faculty Senate or contact me directly with any questions or concern you may have.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Meeting 1 Recap: Orientation and Direction Setting

On Tuesday, March 3, 2009 Design 21 held its first meeting with all of the Design Teams coming together in the Humanities Center. The meeting focused on establishing a timetable for the redesign process and adopting core guiding principles to provide direction. The outcomes where as follows:

Outcome #1
Today we voted on a working model for the core principles that will guide Design 21. Design 21 will focus on preparing students for post-secondary education, career and citizenship. While the jargon might get tweaked, the intent is to create a well-rounded student who is ready to take the next step(s) (post-secondary education/career) and to create a global and local contributor to the community. Certainly, we must be mindful of how we can prove the final piece of this, however a carefully crafted community service requirement and building civic literacy into the curriculum should allow for measurable outcomes.

Outcome #2
The Design Teams unanimously accepted the proposed Spring 09 timelines for both the Career and Core Academies.

Outcome #3
Click here to view a compilation of the work done by each of the Design Teams to define the core 21st century skills at Weymouth High School. While our wording is still rough and our jargon may need polishing, there is a clear consensus emerging that should serve as a nice working foundation. Design Teams will continue to refine this at their next meeting.

Click to view the presentation
Click to view the minutes

Please feel free to use this blog's comments to discuss Design 21's ongoing work. Your input will only make the final product that much better.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Design 21 Teams Posted

WHS Design 21 kicked off Tuesday, February 27th with the announcement of the Design Team membership. The teams can be viewed by clicking here.

Design 21 is comprised of 60 faculty members sitting on 7 Design Teams. The collective experience and expertise among this group of dedicated educators is remarkable. I have no doubt that through their collaboration, Design 21 will create something truly special for our school and our students.

Our Orientation meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 3rd from 2:30-4:00 in the Humanities Center. A copy of our agenda for that meeting can be found here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Faculty Meeting

Minutes for the February 11th Faculty Meeting implementing the Design Teams and Faculty Senate are posted and can be viewed here.

What are Career Academies?

1. Definition of Career Academies according to the National Career Academy Coalition.
  • a small learning community comprised of a group of students within the larger high school, who take classes together for at least two years, and are taught by a team of teachers from different disciplines
  • a college preparatory curriculum with a career theme, enabling students to see relationships among academic subjects, and their application to a broad field of work
  • partnerships with employers, the community, and local colleges, bring resources from outside the high school to improve student motivation and achievement

2. A national directory of high school that have career academies can be found at The Career Academy Support Network.

3. Since 1993 MDRC has carried out the most prominent ongoing longitudinal study of career academies. The study is entitled “Key Findings from Career Academies: Long-Term Impacts on Labor Market Outcomes, Educational Attainment, and Transitions to Adulthood” and was written by James J. Kemple with Cynthia J. Willner. The following is from their website:

  • The Career Academies produced sustained earnings gains that averaged 11 percent (or $2,088) more per year for Academy group members than for individuals in the non-Academy group — a $16,704 boost in total earnings over the eight years of follow-up (in 2006 dollars).
  • These labor market impacts were concentrated among young men, a group that has experienced a severe decline in real earnings in recent years. Through a combination of increased wages, hours worked, and employment stability, real earnings for young men in the Academy group increased by $3,731 (17 percent) per year — or nearly $30,000 over eight years.
  • Overall, the Career Academies served as viable pathways to a range of postsecondary education opportunities, but they do not appear to have been more effective than options available to the non-Academy group. More than 90 percent of both groups graduated from high school or received a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, and half completed a postsecondary credential.
  • The Career Academies produced an increase in the percentage of young people living independently with children and a spouse or partner. Young men also experienced positive impacts on marriage and being custodial parents.