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For Immediate Release: March 18, 2003


The honor from the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory is part of an effort to restructure the 4,200-student high school by creating Smaller Learning Communities

Brockton High School has been spotlighted by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory for its efforts to increase student achievement through the creation of Smaller Learning Communities. The 4,200-student high school is one of eight high schools nationwide now being touted by the NWREL's website as having made significant gains while implementing programs funded through the U.S. Department of Education's Smaller Learning Communities grant program.

"Brockton High School is the largest high school in the state and the size of many college campuses," Superintendent Joseph Bage said. "We realize that it can be daunting to some, so we have worked to personalize that environment for students, to make sure that no one is lost in the shuffle and that every student has the ability and the necessary support to meet their potential."

The Portland, Oregon-based NWREL supports 123 schools across the country that have been awarded SLC grants. The organization provides assistance in self-study, implementing strategies and training, setting up meetings and through identification of needed follow-up work.

Brockton High School was awarded a three-year, $500,000 Smaller Learning Communities grant from the U.S. Department of Education in September, 2000. The grant, which is slated to expire at the end of the 2002-2003 school year, has helped to improve academic achievement and provide a more personalized educational experience for students.

The grant has helped fund professional development for teachers implementing a school wide literacy initiative. That initiative, introduced in the fall of 2001, expanded reading and writing programs to all areas of study and focused largely on critical thinking skills and writing open response answers. Officials are breaking the 4,200-student school into smaller communities to make learning more personalized for each student. Freshmen are randomly assigned to Smaller Learning Communities of 400-500 students within one of the four houses where they take all their core classes.

As a measure of success of the literacy initiative and Smaller Learning Communities, the class of 2003, the first class that must pass the statewide MCAS to graduate, have shown significant gains in the past two years on the MCAS test. In 2000, 59 percent of the Class of 2003 passed the English portion of the test and 36 percent passed the Math portion. Following the December 2002 retest, 88 percent of the class has met the state's competency requirement for graduation by passing both the English and Math portions of the MCAS test.

"Frequently, when people think about Brockton High School, they think mainly of a large urban school with a very effective athletic and drama program," Associate Principal Dr. Susan Szachowicz said. "This designation recognizes what we've always known: that Brockton High School has a very strong academic program, and that its faculty and staff work hard to make connections with all students."

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