International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

Blurring Boundaries: The Promise and Challenge of a District-Community Action Plan for Systemic High School Change in Worcester, Massachusetts

Document Type

Article

Abstract

This chapter examines the Worcester Education Partnership (WEP) in Worcester, Massachusetts, which is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York's Schools for a New Society Initiative. It outlines the five core components of the district-community plan for reinventing high schools, briefly summarizes the planning process that led to their development, and discusses aspects of the collaborative effort that illustrate how bottom-line issues such as resource development, public engagement, accountability, leadership, and vision are being addressed. It pays particular attention to some of the tensions inherent in blurring school-community boundaries to achieve systemic high school change. The WEP planning process was oriented in part by an emphasis on reenvisioning school-community relationships that support student achievement and youth development. The goal was to foster a seamless environment for growth, encompassing both in-school and out-of-school experiences. Among the most important goals of the planned actions was to see an increase in the achievement of minority and low-income students across the district. It has proven challenging to reculture schools and communities as more collaborative entities with academic achievement and youth development as their guiding mission. Issues of trust and communication have challenged this process. Yet for all of this complexity, the experience in Worcester indicates that it is possible to cultivate a community-wide educational system that supports the development and achievement of all students.

Publication Title

New Directions for Youth Development

Publication Date

1-1-2003

Issue

97

First Page

89

Last Page

105

ISSN

1533-8916

DOI

10.1002/yd.37

Keywords

high schools, leadership, educational sociology, academic achievement, communities

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