Opportunity by Design: New High School Models for Student Success

Schools throughout the country will soon begin to implement the Common Core State Standards and adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. These new standards, which are “fewer, clearer, and higher” than existing state standards, are designed to provide all young people with the knowledge and skills they need for success in a global economy. 

Though they are a powerful tool for improving our educational system, standards alone cannot deliver widespread, meaningful change. To bring all students to much higher levels of achievement and to help underprepared students catch up to meet the standards’ new demands,  we must “do school differently.” This means redesigning how schools use teaching, time, technology, and money to create opportunities for more young people to succeed. And, it means replacing existing one-size-fits-all approaches with rigorous, personalized learning that creates multiple opportunities for students to be successful.

Individual interventions are important, yet by themselves, they are not likely to produce sufficiently strong outcomes to help all students meet the demands of the new standards. Instead of retooling individual elements such as teacher preparation, learning time, or technology in isolation, all the elements that we know work and some emerging tools must be integrated into comprehensive school designs that will truly meet the needs of every student. 

“Implementing the Common Core State Standards provides both a challenge and an opportunity to address the long-term problem of achieving both excellence and equity in public education,” said Michele Cahill, Vice President, National Program, and Program Director, Urban Education at Carnegie Corporation. “Taking on this challenge can be truly transformative if states and districts focus on the design of schools. We have enough knowledge, from both research and practical experience, about the conditions needed to enable teachers and students to reach the levels of achievement envisioned by the Common Core standards.  Especially for our high schools, it is urgent that we act on what we know and redesign for success.”

Read the Report

A call to realize the full power of the Common Core by redesigning and reshaping schools to support teachers and maximize key resources, rather than implementing partial solutions. Read More

10 School Design Principles

An effective secondary school design incorporates 10 integrated principles to meet the demands of the Common Core. Read More


A Q&A with Leah Hamilton

Creating New Designs for New Schools. Read Online


Press Release

New Report Calls for Integrated, Comprehensive Approach to Rethinking School Design to Meet Demands of New Standards. Read online.