Jogging along, on a treadmill at an easy pace, I turned the page of my InStyle magazine, and smiled. There, opposite a “How to Wear” editorial spread, was an advertisement—not for the latest boots—but for the XQ Super School Project Challenge.
It wasn’t the first time I had heard about the Challenge. I would imagine that most people who work in education had heard that Laurene Powell Jobs was committing $500 million to the herculean task of rethinking high school. The XQ Super School Project invites the public (generally anyone who cares about education and the future) to throw out the education playbook. To imagine a school “that deeply prepare our students for the rigorous challenges of college, jobs, and life”, and “empower(s) all of America to change high school.” (Read more about the challenge.)
It is an invigorating call to action that is inclusive (see InStyle Magazine and other efforts to reach those who live outside of the education world) and encourages people with from diverse backgrounds to team up and submit concepts that bend or break the rules around what a high school can or should be.
When JFFers first heard about the XQ Super School Project, we thought, “YES!” YES to rethinking education; YES to student voice/engagement; YES to learning beyond the school walls; and YES to the opportunity to craft a design that showcases our expertise in what works best to get young people—especially those who have been underserved by the education system—access to the education and opportunities they deserve.
Today, few students experience a visceral connection between learning inside and outside classroom walls. At JFF’s high school, all young people will be encouraged and supported to be active participants in the community, build their portfolio of skills and knowledge through real and relevant experiences, and develop the agency to determine and drive their future success. How?
JFF’s high school will support students within seamless, structured pathways across grades 9-12, into postsecondary education and training and career access. This will accelerate their attainment of postsecondary credentials and the successful transition to productive work lives and citizenship. Our school’s pathways design will be grounded in four essential features that make up the core of the experience: 1) student-centered approaches to learning, 2) student-selected apprenticeship experiences, 3) innovative and integrated assessments, and 4) postsecondary, community, and employer partnerships, engagement and investment.
We don’t plan to design this high school ourselves. With our partners in the field—including students, teachers, school leaders, faculty, employers, researchers, and parents—we plan to examine our thinking and use their feedback to inform and inspire the JFF high school concept.
Jobs for the Future recognizes that we are a very small group of people out of the now over 20,000 individuals who have signed up to rethink high school. This XQ Super School project helps build momentum for the kind of widespread change towards which JFF has been working for 35 years with groups across the country. We are excited at the momentum created by this project and look forward to reading the designs and concepts that come in from the country—maybe even from someone who happened to be inspired while reading a magazine at the gym.