READY FOR COLLEGE: Innovative high schools are characterized by the pervasive, transparent, and consistent understanding that the school exists for the purpose of preparing all students for college and work. They maintain a common set of high standards for every student to overcome the harmful consequences of tracking and sorting.
POWERFUL TEACHING AND LEARNING: Innovative high schools are characterized by the presence of commonly held standards for high quality instructional practice. Teachers in these schools design rigorous instruction that ensures the development of critical thinking, application, and problem solving skills often neglected in traditional settings.
PERSONALIZATION: Staff in innovative high schools understand that knowing students well is an essential condition to helping them achieve academically. These high schools ensure adults leverage knowledge of students in order to improve student learning.
REDEFINED PROFESSIONALISM: The responsibility to the shared vision of innovative high schools is evident in the collaborative, creative, leadership roles of all adult staff in the school. The staff of these schools take responsibility for the success of every student, hold themselves accountable to their colleagues, and are reflective about their roles.
PURPOSEFUL DESIGN: Innovative high schools are designed to create conditions that ensure the other four design principles: ready for college, powerful teaching and learning, personalization, and redefined professionalism. The organization of time, space, and the allocation of resources ensures that these best practices become common practice.