With funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the CTA Institute for Teaching established the High School Outreach Program in 2004 as part of its effort to assist in finding useful reforms for high school education in California.
Teachers and school community stakeholders have the opportunity to reflect and learn from each other around visionary themes such as:
- Embracing learning over teaching
- Choosing collaboration over isolation
- Encouraging asset over deficit thinking.
The first two years of the grant were dedicated to developing reform programs, selecting high schools to pilot the program, and finding staff and leaders who will become the backbone of the planning effort.
Seven high schools have made a commitment to engage in the High School Outreach Program. They include: Montebello, Santa Maria, Norwalk, and Compton High Schools in the greater Los Angeles area, and Luther Burbank and Hiram Johnson High Schools and Hanford West High School in the Central Valley. A second grant from the Irvine Foundation has made possible the expansion of the HSOP planning to include a community organizer to work with the site change facilitators.
As part of the goal of the High School Outreach Program in these areas, each high school has developed a teacher-driven initiative or set of initiatives based on three components: relationships, rigor and relevance. While outside experts have been called upon to support the planning process, it is the classroom teacher and community stakeholders who will ultimately determine the overall direction and changes necessary to increase student learning in each high school.