Some schools and school systems are out front in redefining the high school educational experience. The thoughts and conversations that inspire such redesign must be deep, creative, risky, rewarding, energizing, inclusive and ongoing.
Caprock High School in Amarillo, TX, appears to be one such 21C thought leader.
Caprock’s story is profiled by Willard Daggett’s International Center for Leadership in Education. Accordingly, the story slants toward the Rigor/Relevance Framework as a unifying dynamic. In fact, the Caprock faculty is given encouragement, support, professional development, and expectations to “Teach to Quadrant D.”
Tightening the focus to the transitional ninth grade year, the Caprock “freshmen academy” is characterized by the following:
- Housed in clusters in separate buildings
- Freshmen-only lunch
- Designated assistant principal and counselor
- Direct focus of curriculum assistant and guidance clerk
- Entire 9th grade is composed of 5 teams.
- Each team has unique math, science, social studies, and history teachers.
- Each team has about 90 heterogeneously-grouped students.
- Class size is limited to 20 students (required the addition of two faculty).
- Teachers on each team share common planning periods.
- Common planning promotes Professional Learning Communities.
- Accelerated homeroom advisory program
- Each freshmen has contract for success. Each freshmen has junior or senior mentor.
- Extended-day and -year opportunities exist for remediation and acceleration.