About City-As-School Target Students Program Procedures Program Outcomes Statistical Profile

About City-As-School
Many students are not being adequately served by traditional, classroom-oriented models of instruction.Despite the best efforts of the best-prepared teachers, some students remain alienated from classroom instruction, from adult authority and the norms of society as they perceive them, and from the expectation of ever participating fully in society�s mainstream.Other students, while making marginal progress, never experience the thrill of real involvement with their education.

Many young people ask why they have to learn something before sitting down to the task.Absent an answer in their own terms, they remain at the margins of school culture, with poor attendance and lack of achievement.At the same time, professionals throughout the community wishing to contribute materially to their community�s betterment are looking for ways to make creative contact with youth.Many of these people have both the energy and the means to be excellent teachers, but lack an opportunity to do so.

City-As-School is the nation�s leading external learning, or experiential learning, model for high school students.Since 1972, we have been continuously evolving a program for putting students in the field � primarily students at-risk for dropping out � and revitalizing their interest in their own lives,in their education, and in the society around them.We offer a rigorous program that sets high expectations both for our students and the professionals in the community who work with them.The experiences are structured to achieve cognitive as well as affective outcomes.The school is remarkable among programs for at-risk youth in that it motivates gifted-and-talented youth as well as those of more modest accomplishment.In 1983, we received the coveted validations as Developer/Demonstrator from the National Diffusion Network.


In the broadest sense, City-As-School is for all students: all students merit the opportunity to experience the real world, placing their education within a real-world context.Our experience has shown that this is one of the best motivators for better performance within traditional settings. However, most of the students enrolled in the school have been identified � by teachers, guidance counselors, or the students themselves � as being at-risk for dropping out of school.It needs to be stated, of course, that many at-risk students have potentials far and beyond the stereotyped of �dropout.�Some of these gifted youngsters are turned off to school because the traditional structure of school, or the social structure they live in, has failed them.


Following is a description of the various elements of City-As-School.


An Overview

The main elements of the program involve: (1) placing students in the real world to serve as interns, (2)compensation for their labor and learning in the form of high school credit toward a diploma, (3)supervision of each placement by a teacher who creates a curriculum (called a LEAP, for Learning Experience Activity Package) for the site and monitors student progress, and (4) a minimum once-a-week meeting in school for each student with an advisor.There is no wage: �payment� is in high school credit only.


Earning Credits

The credit students receive is based on the amount and kind of work they do.Thus, working with an editor or drafting correspondence in an office gives English credit, working in a government agency or with nonprofit advocacy group allows social studies credit and helping an accountant or quality control engineer leads to math credit.(In New York State, a diploma is awarded after four years of study and the attainment of forty credits.At the end of one cycle, students receive one credit for every eight-hour-per-week experience they serve in; two full business days per week equal two credits, two six-hour days equal one-and-a-half credits.)

During registration periods, students create their own schedules, combining resources (internships) and classes in any combination they see fit to fulfill credit need, interest, and schedule.By transferring to City-As-School, where the school day can be long as a full business day, students who have dropped behind their peers can proceed at a slightly more rapid pace, �catch up,� and thus graduate on time.


The Resource Coordinator

The teacher responsibility for resource (internship) supervision is called a resource coordinator.Resource coordinators are responsible for: (1) creating resources and evaluating the educational potential of each; (2) writing a description of each resource for the course catalog; (3) orienting community resource persons in their new role; (4) writing a curriculum for each placement; (5) finding a proper match between resource and student during registration; and (6) monitoring student progress through phone calls, on-site visits, and evaluation of student assignments.


The Resource Person

The site supervisor is called a resource person.The two prime criteria for selecting a resource person are: (1) concern for young people and a desire to work with them, and (2) the willingness to provide them with real activities.Many City-As-School students have records of truancy which would make absence the easiest solution if they did not like their resources.Thus, City-As-School students, apprenticed to people as diverse as blacksmiths and lawyers, are given real activities, from working with metal (i.e., not just cleaning up the workshop, although that might reasonably be expected in some cases) to doing legal research by reading the law, looking up indexes, or accompanying the lawyer to court.The range of placements, and activities at those placements, means that City-As-School can provide rich environments for gifted as well as those more in the mainstream.


In-House Component

City-As-School students have access to a full range of classes within the school.In addition, there is a once-a-week meeting called seminar which is required of all students.These meetings are run by a teacher called an advisor � the resource coordinator�s in-house counterpart.They typically include discussions of activities at resources, and various values-clarification and group exercises.Advisors� specific in-house responsibilities include: (1) first-level guidance counselor duties that involve counseling a caseload of students, and (2) teaching subject classes.


Choice and Responsibility

Characteristic of City-As-School is the effort made to give students choice and responsibility.Beginning with the admissions process, the student takes responsibility for his/her own learning by submitting a writing sample and interviewing, both with the admissions coordinator and, post-admissions, with students.During registration, students must market themselves as being the best candidate for that internship.The student then must pass another hurdle by setting up an interview with the resource person (site supervisor).The entire program focuses on teaching students what happens in the real world, as contrasted with the somewhat protected environment of traditional schools.Choice and responsibility are key.

Within this structure, students are not simple sent out into the world with the responsibility of calling in from time to time, but instead function within a strong framework of adult supervision.They work one-to-one with an adult at their placements, counsel on a regular basis with their resource coordinator, and also report to their advisor on a weekly basis.

Students are encouraged to change resources four times a year to provide a maximum range of experience before graduation.At every step, this requires a process of negotiation that asks students to make decisions regarding their education and their future.

Real-world experiences + real-world responsibilities + creative adult supervision = success for students across entire range of abilities and potentials.


Seventy-eight percent of students at the home school finish with a diploma, although most had been considered at risk- for dropping out prior to coming to the school.Seventy-five percent continue directly on to four-year and two-year colleges, or other vocational training.Adopting sites around the nation report similar results and great satisfaction.From tiny beginnings, the home school now resides on three campuses, with a staff of 90 and a student body of 950.

City-As-School has received several awards and grants on the basis of evidence submitted verifying its effectiveness.Most prestigious has been selection as a Developer/Demonstrator Project for the National Diffusion Network, a project within the United States Department of Education which identifies and disseminates models of Education excellence.Under its auspices, City-As-School has conducted more than 60 trainings across the nation for school districts � urban, suburban, and rural � that wish to create an experiential learning component for their school.


Student, Staff, and Community Benefits

In addition, the following outcomes have been noted, for students, staff, and community.

         Increased self-esteem.

         Increased student motivation.

         Better relationships between students, parents, and school

personnel as students begin to find success in school.

         Students� understanding that they can play an active role in shaping their education and future.

         Increased sense of belonging to the larger community.

         Increased school attendance.

         Better organization and work habits.

         Greater credits earned.

         Higher graduation rate.

         Increased enrollment in college and other kinds of training after high school.

         Widening of students� career and schooling horizons.

         Realization by formerly �turned-off� students of the importance of academics and other classroom training, so they can fulfill larger and more creative roles within their fields of interest.

         Potential job placement after school hours or post-graduation.

         Mentoring of individual students by adults in a unique position to help them.

         Greater participation by the community in the education process, benefiting individuals in the sense of their own personal growth and development, and also benefitting the community-at-large, through the drawing together of two usually separate strands of public endeavor.












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