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CMSD plans 6 new high school models

CMSD will launch six new high schools next school year as part of a continuing effort to help students find the right fit and better prepare for college and careers.

The six schools are actually new small, more personalized models that will be mostly placed in existing buildings and lead to the phasing out of older programs. The models, additional options in a growing District portfolio, will include:

• An aerospace and maritime high school that will help students pursue a range of careers such as aviation/maritime law, aerospace medicine, marine biology and transportation safety inspection. The school will share a downtown building with the Cleveland High School for Digital Arts; another building occupant, SuccessTech Academy, will close.
• Campus International High School, which will be based on the successful model of International Baccalaureate education and be located on the campus of Cleveland State University.
• Two schools at John Adams High School. CMSD is talking to Bard College of New York about making John Adams the home of CMSD’s second Bard High School Early College. A committee made up of representatives from the District and the community will determine a thematic focus for the second school.
• Two schools that will share James Ford Rhodes High School. One of the Rhodes schools will center on environmental studies; offer course and fieldwork experiences in life sciences, social sciences and business; and partner with institutions such as the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. A community team will recommend a theme for the other school based on labor market trends, potential community partnerships and student demand and needs.

While small schools will share John Adams and James Ford Rhodes, the traditional names will remain on the buildings and students will come together to participate in interscholastic sports and other extracurricular activities.

All six of the schools will open with ninth-graders and add a grade each year. Enrollment will total 100 to 125 per grade level.

“As we continue to create smaller and more specialized school models and move away from the traditional comprehensive high school model, we are seeing increased attendance, graduation and achievement rates,” said Christine Fowler-Mack, the District’s chief portfolio officer.

“The teaching and learning is more personalized, relevant and meaningful,” she said. “Therefore, the students are naturally taking on more ownership of their education.”

Cleveland was the first city in the country outside of Bard College’s tri-state base to host one of the early-college schools. Bard High School Early College Cleveland opened on the West Side in 2014 and since then has had waiting lists for admission.

A Bard High School at John Adams would be the sixth such school in the United States. Besides the existing Cleveland school, others are located in the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Queens, Newark, N.J., and Baltimore.

Bard high schools integrate instruction so students can seamlessly earn a high school diploma and a tuition-free associate of arts degree in four years.

Bard’s schools require students to apply for admission. The schools, seeking a cross-section, do not set a minimum grade-point average but interview applicants and ask each for an essay to determine whether they have the passion needed for what is ahead.

The other school at John Adams, as well as the two at Rhodes, will follow small-school models similar to those put into effect in recent years at John F. Kennedy and Lincoln-West high schools.

Those schools adopted strategies that include flexible scheduling, more effective use of technology, clear definition of school culture, partnerships with outside organizations and student input in decisions.

The schools also have incorporated the emerging concept of mastery learning, in which students advance toward graduation as they demonstrate that they have mastered content.

Campus International High School will open just as the first eighth-graders move on from Campus International K-8 School, also located at CSU.

The high school will occupy CSU’s Cole Center. The K-8, formerly located at the Cole Center and other space, will be consolidated in a new larger structure that the District is building on land leased from CSU.

The K-8 school is accredited in the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which includes instruction in Mandarin Chinese and global citizenship.

The K-8 school opened in 2010 with kindergarten through second grade and added a grade each year. Though it takes all students, limited capacity has forced the District to hold an annual lottery for seats.