In Answer, Member Schools Are Developing Benchmark Descriptions

Common Principle 4:
Teaching and learning should be personalized to the maximum feasible extent.

a. A schedule that supports small learning communities by reducing student-teacher ratio (80:1, 20:1)

b. Schedules and programs that are organized to accommodate personalized learning (i.e. advisors, school within a school, and house system)

c. Professional development and support system encourage personalization through the provision of information about expert/outside and community resources

Common Principle 5:
The governing practical metaphor of the school should be student-as-worker, teacher-as-coach.

a. Professional development opportunities and support systems that encourage authentic teaching and learning

b. A schedule and organization that allow for time during the school day to pursue authentic teaching and learning

Common Principle 6:
The diploma should be awarded upon demonstration of mastery of the central skills and knowledge of the school’s program.

a. Professional development , support systems and time that are provided for teachers to discuss student work and develop consistent assessments

b. Transcripts that reflect the experiences, skills, and competencies students have accomplished

c. Promotion and graduation requirements that use demonstrations of mastery rather than time spent in class as criteria

Common Principle 7:
The tone of the school should stress unanxious expectation, trust, and decency.

a. Whole-school meetings that are convened to include student voices

b. Governance systems that enable all stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, community, and administrators ) to have input into planning and assessing of school programs (vision/goal setting process, data review, student exhibitions)

c. A learning environment that is both hospitable and authentic

Common Principle 8:
The principal and teachers should perceive themselves as generalists first and specialists second.

a. Curricular goals and outcomes, schedule, teaching load, and programs that provide teachers with time to meet and collaborate during the school day

b. Professional development, support systems, and incentives (i.e. sabbaticals, grants, enrichment activities, study groups) that help teachers make a paradigm shift regarding their thinking about their profession, learning how to work collaboratively, and expanding their curriculum content base

c. Expectations of teachers that are realistic and reasonable

Common Principle 9:
Teacher loads should be 80 or fewer pupils [at the secondary level; 20:1 at elementary level], and per-pupil cost should not exceed traditional school costs by more than 10 percent.

a. Professional development and support system resources that are CES related

b. Teaching loads for teachers that are 80:1 (secondary school) or 20:1 (elementary school) through creative scheduling and innovative use of people/resources

c. Budget and resource allocation decisions are made at the school site by a broad range of stakeholders

Common Principle 10:
The school should demonstrate non-discriminatory and inclusive policies, practices, and pedagogies.

a. Policies that encourage stakeholders to communicate with, participate in, and provide leadership for the school through outreach and solicitation

b. Opportunities for all stakeholders to voice their opinion on a wide variety of school matters with input to the superintendent and his/her staff

c. Collegial relationships among all areas: teaching, administration, clerical, maintenance, and community


a. A district office that provides diversity training for school staff, parents and students

b. A district personnel office that seeks diverse administrative and teaching staff

c. School policies that clearly describe appropriate and inappropriate behavior and conduct and state consequences for inappropriate conduct


a. Goals that are explicitly related to equity – human and financial resource allocations which address long-standing inequities with traditionally under-served populations

b. School policies that promote equitable learning (i.e. active heterogeneous grouping, no tracking or leveling, academic supports and acknowledgements of diverse learners and styles, high expectations for all students, class enrollments reflect diversity of student population)

c. A data collection and analysis system is used to inform decisions regarding student achievement and success of all students (i.e. rates of disciplinary actions, graduation and drop out rates, representation of ethnic groups in high and low achievement levels, AP enrollments)