Failing at School
Lessons for Redesigning Urban High Schools
Camille A. Farrington
Patricia A. Wasley
Joseph P. McDonald
Teachers College Press
Roughly half of all incoming ninth-graders across urban districts will fail classes and drop out of school without a diploma. Failing at School starts with the premise that urban American high schools generate such widespread student failure not because of some fault of the students who attend them, but because high schools were designed to stratify achievement and let only the top performers advance to higher levels of education. This design is particularly detrimental for low-income, racial/ethnic minority students. To get different results, Farrington proposes fundamental changes based on what we now know about how students learn, what motivates them to engage in learning, and what kinds of educational systems and structures would best support their learning.
Offers concrete strategies for redesigning high schools based on four dimensions of student achievement—structural, academic, developmental, and motivational.
Highlights the voices of students to illustrate fundamental problems with the way we currently “do school.”
Addresses the new Common Core State Standards and the potential of this major reform effort to move us toward equity and excellence.
Camille A. Farrington is a research associate (assistant professor) at The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and the Consortium on Chicago School Research. She is also director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment for the Network for College Success.