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Redesigning High Schools

10 Features for Success

ByLinda Darling-HammondMatt Alexander

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In 1949, W. E. B. Du Bois said, “Of all the civil rights for which the world has struggled and fought for 5,000 years, the right to learn is undoubtedly the most fundamental.” He went on to describe a vision of equitable, democratic schools focused on deeper learning for all students. Although our commitment to develop a more perfect union aspires to enact a right to learn for all children, our society has constructed a system that is still largely based on a standardized, impersonal factory model adopted a century ago. This model incorporates deeply embedded inequalities that dare many of our children to learn. While many educators have sought to transform this system—and some have succeeded in redesigning individual schools for greater equity and success—the fundamental features of the factory model live on in both our policies and many of our practices. At this moment in history, when students, families, and educators are trying to recover from a public health crisis, an economic crisis, and a crisis of civil rights and democracy, it is imperative to reinvent our education system so that it can support successful learning that prepares each and every child for a rapidly changing world—one in which young people will need to work with knowledge that has not yet been discovered, using technologies that have yet to be invented, solving major problems we have not yet been able to solve. At a time when our nation is increasingly polarized and when there are strong efforts to dismantle progress made to support diversity, inclusion, and equity, it is also important to reaffirm our commitment to education for equity and democracy that supports our collective future. This will require an explicit attempt to redesign our schools and systems to support each and every child for equitable and empowering education—not just for “covering the curriculum” or “getting through the book.” Schools that have been successfully redesigned in prior eras of reform—many of them during the 1990s and early 2000s—offer a powerful evidence-based blueprint to create schools that are more humane, enriching, and productive than our current models. The raw material to reimagine schooling is happening across the country and is showcased throughout this report.


Publication Date
Mar 21, 2024
Education & Language
Creative Commons NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)
By (author): Linda Darling-Hammond, By (author): Matt Alexander, By (author): Laura E. Hernández, Cover design or artwork by: Allison Shelley/ The Verbatim Agency for EDUimages, Other primary creator: Learning Policy Institute (LPI)


Perfect Bound
Interior Color
US Letter (8.5 x 11 in / 216 x 279 mm)

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