We know that as the workforce changes, so must high schools. Yet, changing the culture, structure and academic outcomes of urban high schools has proven to be one of the most difficult challenges facing both educators and education advocates.

We heard from the following national experts on high school reform: 

  • Tom Vander Ark author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World, founder of GettingSmart.com, and Partner in Learn Capital. 
  • Larry Rosenstock Founder of High Tech High, San Diego
  • Jamie Casap Google Global Education Evangelist

Along with our national experts, the half-day conference included local leaders DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg, Antonio Vigil, Senator Mike Johnston, Chris Gibbons, Bill Kurtz, David Greenberg, and Barbara O'Brien, who talked about issues specific to Urban High Schools.

Larry Rosenstock presented an introduction to school redesign by featuring a video and discussion on High Tech High’s innovational approach to education.

DPS Superintendent, Tom Boasberg and APS Superintendent, John Barry provided a Q&A with conference participants on the current challenges and achievements we see in urban high schools.

We then heard from Tom Vander Ark, Barbara O’Brien, and David Greenberg about lessons learned from past work on high schools. 

Jamie Casap, Bill Kurtz, Antonio Vigil, Larry Rosenstock, and Jane Shirley then talked to the group about the best practices in high school design.

We wanted participants and our education experts to delve deeper into the issues. We had five breakout sessions to gain a better understanding how we can help create a better learning environment for urban high school students. Larry Rosenstock discussed  flipping school design on its head: Deconstructing the order of starting a school. Jaime Casap led a conversation on how technology is flattening education: Turning information into intelligence. Tom Vander Ark helped us understand how to use Improvement vs. innovation in school design. Mariah Dickson, Steve Coit, & Mark Heffron led a discussion on using student level data effectively. Antonio Vigil & Chris Gibbons led a conversation on designing a new, successful high school in Denver. We gained insight on the challenges our schools experience and how we can rethink school improvement.

Colorado Senator Mike Johnston closed the conference with his thoughts on how we can move forward: "Truth and hope provides urgency and reality, if we only have hope and no truth; it creates a fantasy."

Learn more about this event by downloading the Urban High School Summit PowerPoint with a special introduction by Denver's Mayor Michael B. Hancock!

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