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Austin Independent School District and the School Redesign Network: A Partnership for Successful School Redesign

By Raymond Pecheone Paul Tytler Peter Ross

Austin Independent School District (AISD) is an urban school district of 80,000 students. In partnership with the School Redesign Network at Stanford University, the district began redesigning all 11 of its comprehensive high schools in 2005. The intention for this redesign was to not only better prepare every student for the 21st century but also fulfill the district’s commitment to equity of outcomes for all students. The High School Redesign Initiative’s cornerstone was its mission that every student, regardless of background, should be as well educated as any student in the world and that all of the district’s students have the capacity to be high achievers. The primary goals of AISD’s High School Redesign Initiative were to:

  • increase four-year high school completion rates dramatically;
  • ensure graduation translates to college and career readiness for all students; and
  • make sure every high school provides well-articulated pathways to career success.

AISD engaged in a yearlong intensive strategic planning process that prepared it to transform its high schools into more personalized and high-performing smaller learning communities for all students and teachers. Through this process, the district created a portfolio of high school opportunities and choices tailored to meet the needs of its 11 comprehensive high schools while taking into account the local school context. Planning included an eight-phase redesign process that incorporated all stakeholders. The report summarizes the learning events, activities, workshops, community engagement, and strategic planning that AISD and the School Redesign Network accomplished during the 2005–06 High School Redesign Initiative.

Informed by the lessons that AISD learned, this report highlights key considerations for districts in the course of redesign, which include presenting clear redesign frameworks, establishing professional learning communities at all school levels, promoting greater student participation, adapting to organizational change, and examining central office functions.


Posted with permission, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.