Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center

Regional High School Dialogue Series

Regional High School Series

At any given time, a state education agency (SEA) is involved in multiple state-specific initiatives to raise student achievement. There are also times when states are involved in separate but parallel initiatives or discussions about an overarching issue that might have them scratching their heads and thinking, "We can't be the only ones talking about this."

Within the Great Lakes states, one of the current issues is high school student achievement. Recognizing the increased focus on high school, the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center and the Great Lakes West Comprehensive Center—both administered by Learning Point Associates—began a series of regional conversations. These conversations were designed to (1) provide a support system/network for SEA staff tasked to work on high school improvement, (2) facilitate a conversation about what high school improvement means in each state and where reform is needed, and (3) create a starting point for regional collaboration around high school improvement.

April 2008
The regional series kicked off on April 9–10, 2008, with a focus on national and state policies—including standards—that impact high school improvement efforts. The meeting was designed to focus on information sharing between the states about current high school efforts, presentations by national organizations on the latest research and promising practice on high school redesign, and needs sensing regarding states' ability to move forward with policies and implementation of policies.

May 2008
The Great Lakes East and Great Lakes West Comprehensive Centers hosted their second meeting, "A Broader View of Educational Needs: 21st Century Learning" on May 19–20, 2008. The meeting brought together state teams from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin and provided participants with an opportunity to learn about and discuss 21st century learning and its role in larger high school improvement efforts. 

Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, provided participants with an overview of his organization's framework, and West Virginia State Superintendent Steven Paine and Iowa Department of Education Director Judy Jeffrey gave participants a first-hand glimpse into their states' efforts of incorporating 21st century skills into the core curriculum.

September 2008
On September 10–11, 2008, the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center and Great Lakes West Comprehensive Center hosted their third regional high school dialogue on Multiple Pathways to Graduation. As the states in the Great Lakes region are establishing more rigorous graduation standards and implementing new policies relating to 21st century skills, educators raise questions and require guidance about many different ways students could gain access to the new curricula. In response to state requests for exemplars of models and programs that encompass these multiple pathways, Great Lakes East and Great Lakes West invited staff from a number of innovative programs throughout the region to share information about their programs.

January 2009
The role of the SEA has changed dramatically. Increased demands placed on all-too-often reduced numbers of staff have created a need for SEAs to strengthen external relationships and leverage existing resources to implement their high school improvement initiatives. The necessity and importance for increased SEA collaborations emerged as a common theme identified by participants at the Regional High School Dialogue series.

The fourth Regional High School Dialogue was held on January 15–16, 2009. Great Lakes East, in collaboration with the Great Lakes West Comprehensive Center and the National High School Center, brought staff from all five states in the Great Lakes region— Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin—to learn about specific processes, strategies, and structures they could implement to build coalitions and foster partnerships in their states.

March 2009
The January 2009 dialogue focused on the importance of collaborations and partnerships to support state high school improvement initiatives. This need for increased collaborations is apparent especially when talking about transitions into and out of high school. Equally important is having the available research to inform those conversations and collaborations. 

Great Lakes East and Great Lakes West partnered with the REL Midwest to host a March webinar, High School Redesign: Emerging Research about Interventions to Support Transition Conversations. Robert Balfanz, Ph.D., and Nettie Legters, Ph.D., provided an overview of their research on high school redesign and responded to questions from education leaders in the Midwest about the most appropriate ways to apply their research to statewide high school improvement programs and policies.

May 2009
As part of the ongoing regional series and stemming from the March discussion on transitions into and out of high school and the information necessary to identify students who may be struggling with the transition, Great Lakes East, in collaboration with Great Lakes West and REL Midwest, hosted a May webinar, Connecting Research to Practice: Developing Systems of On-Track Indicators and Supports to Increase Graduation Rates. Elaine Allensworth, Ph.D., codirector of Statistical Analysis at the Consortium on Chicago School Research, and Paige Ponder, director of Graduation Pathways at Chicago Public Schools, were the featured guests on the 90-minute regional webinar.

Photo of teacher with student.

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