White House Summit on a Next Generation High Schools

By Gerry House

On Tuesday, November 10, the White House hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools, an event I was thrilled to be a part of. Together with students, educators, philanthropists and entrepreneurs, we discussed how to reimagine high school to enable students to seize opportunities in today’s economy and expand access to innovative STEM teaching and learning.

As President of the Institute for Student Achievement (ISA), a division of Educational Testing Service (ETS), I had the opportunity to present at the Summit on the work ISA does to reinvent America’s high schools. The mission of ISA is to partner with schools and districts to transform public high schools so that students who are traditionally underserved and underperforming graduate prepared for success in college. During my presentation, I shared my thoughts on why ISA is so successful.

Student success is imperative. Often we hear people saying that it’s too late to prepare struggling students for college and careers. With more than a decade of proven results in public high schools, ISA challenges this assumption. ISA utilizes a comprehensive approach to addressing the academic, social, and emotional needs of high school students, so that they are well-prepared for success in college and career. Studies show that ISA’s largely African-American and Latino student population has a four-year cohort graduation rate of nearly 80 percent. This dramatically exceeds the national high school graduation rate for African-American students of 60 percent and Latino students of 58 percent. Objective, external evaluators have validated our long track record of creating a measurable, positive impact on student achievement.

Over the next five years, we will strive to triple the number of students who have access to high performing STEM and Career Technical Education high schools. During these years, we will also be committed to work with 10 high schools to embed the teaching and learning of noncognitive factors into the core academics to increase students’ capacity to be college and career ready.

In addition to sharing my thoughts on ISA’s work, Roberto Rodriguez, deputy assistant to the president; Dr. John King, who will become acting secretary of education at the end of year; and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, all reinforced the president’s commitment to excellent and equitable high schools for all students as part of a national effort.  In addition to those sharing insights and ideas, other organizations committed their resources and advocacy. The Nellie Mae Foundation committed up to $200 million through 2020 to accelerate student-centered approaches to learning in New England. The Alliance for Excellent Education is launching the “Better High Schools for All” initiative to help connect the many effective high-school redesign initiatives and to offer policy makers evidence-based policy recommendations for transforming low-performing high schools.

I am honored to have presented at the White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools. To learn more about the summit, click here.