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Fact Sheet


High Schools That Work (HSTW), with its middle grades component, Making Middle Grades Work (MMGW), is a national effort to prepare all students for college and career.  It began in 1987 and functions under the auspices of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and Senior Vice President, Dr. Gene Bottoms.

The mission of HSTW SW Ohio is to build the capacity of member districts to successfully improve student academic and career-technical performance. We will achieve our mission by creating, sustaining, and expanding use of our value-added collaborative services. 

HSTW has as its vision to be recognized by our customers as the premier partner in school processes and student performance improvement. 

Our customers, current and potential, are school districts.  This includes school boards, superintendents/CEO’s, principals, and faculty.  Stakeholders include business, higher education, students, legislators, the Ohio Department of Education, funders, and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).  Our products are collaborative services that assist school districts in achieving improved student performance. 

The ten key practices that provide the framework for HSTW and MMGW are:


•           High expectations for all students

•           Challenging career/technical studies that enhance academic learning

•           Academic studies that teach the essential concepts from the college preparatory      curriculum to all students

•           A program of study consisting of an upgraded academic core and a career/technical and/or academic major

•           A system of extra help and extra time for students to complete an accelerated program that includes high-level academic and technical content

•           Using student assessment and program evaluation data for continuous improvement


•           Work-based learning

•           Students actively engaged in learning


•           Guidance involving student, parents, and teachers in planning for post-secondary education and career

•           Teachers working together, within and across curricular areas

Assessments - One strength of HSTW and MMGW is its extensive assessment and survey system and the twenty-plus years of comparative data.  The high school assessment is based on a version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading, mathematics, and science, plus student and teacher survey data.  Educational Testing Services (ETS, New Jersey) designs the HSTW assessment test and surveys.  In addition, technical assistance visits are conducted at every site on a statewide cycle. 

Regional role – Our goal in SW Ohio is to create high-performing HSTW and MMGW sites that prepare all students for next steps, college and career.  The role of the regional office is to disseminate information to assist sites in developing and implementing the HSTW/MMGW models effectively.  We provide quality professional development and technical coaching consultation to schools; organize professional learning communities for the exchange of ideas and best practices; provide linkages to resources in the region, state, and nation; disseminate research and data; orient new site staff and faculty to the models; and support state mandates.  The regional office works closely with the Ohio Department of Education, with ESC’s and SST’s, and with both Career Development and the National Career Pathways Network (formerly, TechPrep) 

Site role – The 10 career centers , 44 high schools, and 44 middle schools (representing 42 districts) participating in HSTW and/or MMGW in our region commit to implement the key practices and to get all students to take the recommended curriculum.  Schools identify a site coordinator to monitor implementation, a site team to plan the process, and focus teams to insure that all aspects of the model are included.  School leadership supports teachers with quality staff development and with time to work as teams.  Sites develop an individualized action plan to implement the key practices in logical progression and participate in national student and teacher surveys in even years.  Additionally, sites engage in a Self-Review Process (SRP) that includes a formal evaluation team, internally led, approximately every five years.

Our participating districts include urban, suburban, and rural populations, and many of our sites have significant percentages of low-income, minority, low-achieving, and special needs students.  Our work is in tandem with the OIP and addresses strategies (our key practices) and related action steps designed to meet or exceed AYP for all subgroups.  Within the district decision framework, our sites that implement the model effectively do a needs assessment/environmental scan based on data analysis with coaching support, determine priorities based on the needs assessment, and develop a multi-year strategic plan to address needs on a prioritized timeline.  PDCA is built into the process.  The national assessments, site review process, and focus groups within the system serve to address which strategies (built on the framework of the ten key practices) are working, how action steps are progressing, and what areas need to be reassessed and/or redirected.  ALL areas--curriculum, professional development, student guidance and advisement, classroom engagement, etc.--are coordinated around the strategic plan and assessed accordingly.  Data, including report card measures, are always used in decision-making, assessment of success, and determination of progress and direction.  Plans are revised at least annually to reflect current status.