In 2011, Revere High School faced challenges that many schools are still up against today. Students entered at a wide range of proficiency levels, but the school’s structures were relatively standardized: all students moved through a seven-period schedule in similar class sizes, teachers delivered new content in class, and students were expected to complete work independently after school.
When Dr. Lourenço Garcia became principal of Revere High School in 2012, he recognized that this traditional school design would need to change to better serve students and meet rising standards. He and his staff reorganized resources and implemented a series of integrated changes, many of which targeted support to the school’s highest-need students in 9th grade.
Over the last four years, the Revere School District has experienced profound changes yielding positive results in student achievement. For example, in 2014 Revere High School was recognized by the National Center for Urban School Transformation as the Best Urban School in the United States, the culmination of their school journey. A culture of innovation and collaborative leadership led by teachers who have high academic expectations shifted educators’ belief system by encouraging them to re-examine their approaches and practices while teaching diverse students, including those historically marginalized and deprived of a meaningful education in American schools.
In addition, other innovative approaches, including flipped learning, advisory, 4X4 block schedule, and integration of digital technology into curriculum and instruction with iPads in the hands of all students and teachers have transformed the education landscape in the district. Teachers and students partner to use educational technology to enrich instruction and support student-centered practices. Our investments in technology and infrastructure throughout the district have established a solid foundation that can move student-centered approaches to learning forward.
These changes brought about significant improvements over just three years. Revere High School went from a Level 3 to a Level 1 school in Massachusetts’s statewide rankings, with a 9 percentage point increase in ELA proficiency and an 11 percentage point increase in math. The AP honor roll for expanding AP courses is expanding. Additionally, the number of students with 3 and above on AP exams increased, while maintaining or increasing the number of students in the program.
These gains were made possible by a focus on strategic school design—the deliberate organization of people, time, money, and technology in support of students’ needs.
If you are interested in catalyzing change through school design, start with these resources: