Beating the Odds
High Schools as Communities of Commitment
Patricia A. Wasley
Joseph P. McDonald
Teachers College Press
Beating the Odds tells the story of how teachers, students, and leaders in three schools transcend obstacles to beat the odds of failure and achieve impressive success. The schools — a suburban vocational-technical school, an urban school for immigrant, new-English-language learners, and an urban second-chance school for students who have failed elsewhere —all operate as communities of commitment. With accessible language, multiple examples, and rich anecdotes, Ancess describes how these schools are organized, how they use adult-student relationships to leverage high levels of student performance, how they enact teaching and learning for making meaning, and how they confront the obstacles they encounter. Ancess also discusses the systemic conditions for sustaining and scaling up schools such as these three.
The high schools described in this volume—Urban Academy, International High School, and Hodgson Vocational-Technical—have come to represent models of successful reform despite their challenging student populations. In addition to telling their story, this book provides samples of school documents that illustrate the day-to-day operation of the schools and can be adapted by practitioners to fit their own circumstances.
Jacqueline Ancess is co-director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, & Teaching (NCREST) at Teachers College, Columbia University and is co-author of Authentic Assessment in Action: Studies of Schools and Students at Work.