High quality schools have common qualities and characteristics. These characteristics have little to do with location (rural, suburban, or core city), demographic makeup (race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or age/grade levels of students), or a school’s relative wealth or resources. Schools and districts that obtain excellent student achievement results are similar in a number of key ways. Research from many sources points to nine characteristics of high-performing schools.
Characteristics of High-Performing Schools
- They have a clear and shared focus (teaching and learning).
- They have high standards and expectations for all students.
- Effective school leadership is present.
- There are high levels of collaboration and communication.
- Curriculum, instruction, and assessments are aligned with state standards.
- There is frequent monitoring of learning and teaching.
- There is ongoing and focused professional development.
- There is a supportive learning environment for students.
- There are high levels of family and community engagement.
Students in Minnesota have options for school choice by law. While the majority of students choose to stay within their home district attendance boundaries, the Legislature has provided additional options for parents and students, including charter schools and approved online schools.
Additionally, many districts offer unique options within their own systems, such as magnet themed programs, gifted and talented programs, targeted services, alternative learning programs, English Learner (EL) and Special Education programs, online or blended online learning, and postsecondary preparation programs such as Advanced Placement (AP), College in the Schools (CIS), International Baccalaureate (IB), Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), Jobs for Minnesota Graduates (JAG), and other vocational and service learning programs.