35 High Schools Worth Visiting

Last year we published a list of 14 high schools worth visiting. We’ve visited and profiled some great new schools this year so it was time to update our list. Following are 35 schools that personalize and blend learning; they challenge students with real work and ask them to show what they know. Time to hit the road!
1. Show & Tell. High Tech High in San Diego is probably the best example of a high-engagement cohort model secondary school. Great teachers frame great projects and expect students to show what they know on a regular basis. When you’re there, visit High Tech International across the street.
2. Mindset. While in San Diego, visit Kearny High School of Digital Media & Design. The student-centered project-based stresses productive “Habits of Mind.”
3. Better Blend. Summit Denali in Silicon Valley uses individualized skill building playlists dished up by the open Activate Instruction platform to prepare students to standards-aligned project-based work.
4. 50/50 Blend. Carpe Diem in Yuma Arizona (and Indianapolis & Cincinnati) is the best example of a 50/50 blend with an effective combination of personalized online learning in a lab setting and workshops taught by master teachers. The 7 Nexus Academies in the upper midwest share a similar design.
5. Competency-Blend. The Education Achievement Authority (EAA) is Michigan’s school improvement district (like the LA RSD and TN ASD). It operates 12 schools in Detroit including Henry Ford High School. The EAA partnered with the School Improvement Network to develop a student-centered competency-based school model and a cool platform Buzz.
6. 3 in 1: While in Detroit, visit Cornerstone and see three blended models under one roof–all connected by a spine of character developmentLike Carpe Diem, the high school model is a lab rotation model.
7. Flipped school. Greg Green is principal of Clintondale High School, also near Detroit. They flipped much of their instruction using content on Gooru. Learn more about Clintondale on The Flip Instituteblog.
8. Project-Based. The 130 school national New Tech Network powered by Echo, a project-based learning management system. Anson New Tech, east of Charlotte North Carolina, integrates related subjects such as world geography and earth science or American literature and history.
9. Just the Ticket. The staff at Leadership Public Schools in Oakland built Exit Ticket, a classroom assessment and competency tracking system. LPS is the best example of a collaborative and distributed innovation agenda across a network of schools.
10. Flex. Flex model schools , like Silicon Valley Flex, use a digital curriculum to support individual progress. AdvancePath is a national dropout prevention network of high performing academies in public high schools.
11. Interest-Based Learning. The 100-school Edvisions high schools use Project Foundry and a variety of tools to support project-based learning and authentic assessment. Start with a visit to teach run Minnesota New Country School.
12. Internships. The 100-school Big Picture network does the best job of identifying student interest and creating related internships. We featured Met East in Camden in a PBL post.
13. Personal Learning Network (PLN). New Milford High School Principal Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) learned a lot from his PLN. Read how he helped connect his community with social media.
14. Travel. THINK Global School students use the latest equipment to “record, report, and share their global education online as they travel the world.”
15. Challenge. NYC iSchool blends computer adaptive learning with challenges that require students to work together to present real solutions to real problems.
16. Heart. Mooresville, North Carolina superintendent says, ” It’s not about the machine, it’s about heart,” but his students sure make great use of their MacBooks. The innovation in Mooresville is the system-expectations, culture, curriculum, tools, and support.
17. Expeditions. Casco Bay High School in Portland Maine is an Expeditionary Learning school which keeps the school’s goals “clear, ambitious and essential.” Casco juniors engage in a long term interdisciplinary project that results in demonstration of learning.
18. Proficiency. Poland High School , a member of the New England Secondary School Consortium, was an early leader in proficiency-based graduation.
19. Character. DSST may be the best high poverty STEM school in the country but it’s also really good at character development. “We’re a values first organization,” said CEO Bill Kurtz.
20. Journalism. The nation’s biggest and best journalism program is Palo Alto High SchoolEsther Wojcicki asks her students to write at least 250 words every day. Students produce professional quality publications.
21. Big blocks. Reynoldsburg High School has two facilities and four academies including eSTEM featuring triple blocks on big topics like Energy, Environment and the Economy.
22. 1:1. The Chicagoland Leyden High School District has been a 1:1 leader. Check out tech director Bryan Weinert’s blog for details.
23. Inquiry. Science Leadership Academy is an inquiry-driven, STEM-focused, project-based school formed as a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute.
24. Entrepreneurship. Also in Philly is Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, a cool private school with a partnership with Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership
25. Liberal Arts. Chandler Prep , part of the Great Hearts network, is dedicated to providing a comprehensive liberal arts education and developing young people of character.
26. Alternative. Eagle Rock (@EagleRockSchool) in Estes Park Colorado, is a initiative of @AmericanHonda, is both a high school and a professional development center for educators (and a very cool place to visit).
27. Tutoring. Match High School , Boston, utilizes individualized tutoring for every student in support of a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum.
28/29. Art+. While in Boston, visit Boston Arts Academy and Tech Boston, two good small thematic “pilot schools” that demonstrated the benefits of autonomy and choice.
30. E.P.I.C.C. Academy at East Hall High School in Gainesville, Georgia, is an dynamic blend launched by@JohnHardison1 and documented weekly on Getting Smart.
31. Early College. Beaverton Early College High School is part of the a network sponsored by Portland Community College where at risk students can earn a high school diploma and an associate degree. (See Early College High Schools)
32. IB. The 30 schools of the IDEA Public Schools prepare south Texas students for college with the rigorous International Baccalaureate program. Visit the flagship high school in Donna and the K-8 feeder school featuring a lab rotation blend.
33. Global. West of Milwaukee is the lovely area of Kettle Moraine with a big high school that houses some very interesting charter schools including a performing arts blend and a flex model global studies school.
34. Application. There are about 100 next-gen, upper-secondary schools in Denmark with a focus onbusiness (HHX) and technology (HTX) that are worth visiting. While schools in Denmark, get an overview of the 111 vocational programs with job specific training and certification.
35. Personalization. While in Scandinavia, don’t miss Kunskapsskolan, a Swedish network (described in a here) uses technology to support individual goal setting.
Thanks to many contributors. Sorry for all the great schools I missed. What school would you add to the list?

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Tom Vander Ark

More suggestions:
@RichDeLorenzo: Highland Tech High in Anchorage
Dr. Brad Huff: University High School on the campus of Fresno State. It's music program, 48 books program, and access to college courses makes it one worth noting.
Zep: hundreds of schools which integrate student voice, interests and dreams see a state by state comprehensive list http://www.educationrevolution.org/

Loretta Benge

I am frustrated that there is so much hype here, it appears exciting! But, where's the meat for lower grades K-5? It looks like it's all about high school. Changes need to start in the lower grades so that teachers don't have to bend over backwards to help people catch up. Could I be wrong?


Tom Vander Ark

Here's 38 elementary & middle schools worth visiting

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