Between the time the Initiative began in 2003 and its official conclusion in 2010, Oregon gained 42 small high schools through conversions or new starts. In seven years more than 25,000 students attended Initiative schools. National research has established that the operating cost per graduating student in small schools is comparable to that of large comprehensive schools, making the small school model financially tenable long after the Initiative draws to a close .
Extensive documentation about the Oregon Small Schools Initiative, including its TOOLS & RESOURCES, is available online as open source materials. Ongoing longitudinal analysis of student achievement data, graduation rates and college-readiness through 2013 will expand the collective understanding of how small schools advance learning.
For small schools, the Oregon Small Schools Initiative’s conclusion denoted not an end, but a beginning. Having already laid solid foundations for professional development and classroom teaching and learning, school and district leaders continue leveraging the nimble structure of their schools to further extend rigor, relevance and relationships.
Moreover, for the 22 schools that received extension grants in 2009-2010, school and district leaders spent considerable time actively designing for their schools’ future. The annual leadership institute on September 25, 2009 focused on sustainability of small schools in an environment of reduced funding for public education.
On April 26, 2010, during the final Report of Progress meeting, superintendents, principals, and teacher-leaders examined key learnings from the small school experience, celebrated accomplishments of the schools and acknowledged the next important phase of school work ahead. View videos and photos of the event, including:
Lastly, in the final year of the Initiative, two small schools agreed to participate in a separate and unique track of work related to proficiency-based education. The involved concentrated exploration to define what it takes to scale and authentically embed proficiency-based practices into instruction and assessment. The undertaking, thus far promising yet incomplete, is supplementing the extensive efforts by districts and schools across Oregon to introduce proficiency-based education in schools of all sizes. View online reports and open source materials .