In 2003, Oregon had 83 comprehensive high schools with greater than 800 in enrollment. As the first step in the selection process, the Initiative team laid out eligibility criteria which, for existing schools was based on conversion school sizes and the percentage of students of color and students on free and reduced lunch. The criteria yielded 55 eligible high schools that were invited to respond to a request for proposal; 33 applied. The criteria for new starts was based on the small school design, proposed student population and demographics, and interviews with the design team.
The actual selection of schools for both conversions and new starts was based on a variety of intakes. In addition to reviewing written applications, the Initiative team conducted site visits to evaluate leadership’s readiness for change as well as commitment to the small schools model, and conducted an assessment of school district support. They met with students and teachers, visited classrooms, and met with local community and business leaders. Knowing the challenges involved for both the conversion process and new start development, the Initiative team chose applicants that demonstrated likelihood for success.
The Initiative selected schools in two rounds a year apart for both large school conversions and new starts. This allowed the Initiative to apply what it learned from the first round to the second.
First-round school funding in the Spring of 2004 included eight conversions intended to create 30 small schools, as well as four new starts. Seven conversions into 27 small schools and two of the four new starts went on to launch. One comprehensive school did not complete its conversion, and two of the planned new starts did not open.
In the second round, the Initiative funded three conversions intended to create 10 small schools, as well as five new starts. All the conversions and three of the new starts launched.
Open the Initiative Timeline (.pdf) for details about selected schools and timelines for planning and launching.