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Schools of Opportunity Provide Models for Outstanding and Equitable High Schools

First two profiles published on Washington Post’s Answer Sheet


Kevin Welner, 303-492-8370,
Carol Burris, Rockville Centre, 516-993-2141,

URL for this press release:


Boulder, CO (May 27, 2015) – At a time when advocates for school improvement are looking for better paths forward, the Schools of Opportunity project at the National Education Policy Center has identified 17 public high schools that can serve as models. Today, the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet published a rich description of one of those schools, describing how Malverne High School in New York is closing opportunity gaps. This follows last week’s profile of Centaurus High School in Colorado.

These outstanding schools demonstrate practices to ensure that all students have rich opportunities to succeed. The program was piloted in just two states in the 2014-2015 school year: Colorado and New York. Next school year, the project will include high schools nationwide.

“When people read about Malverne and Centaurus, they’ll be struck by the similarities—how both schools demand excellence but always in a way that provides strong supports for students and their teachers and that is grounded in extremely healthy and kind school cultures,” said NEPC director Professor Kevin Welner of the CU-Boulder School of Education. “Rich opportunities to learn are the result of sustained, hard work, but the payoff is enormous.”

The Schools of Opportunity project is jointly led by Welner and by Carol Burris, the principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, NY. It is based on 11 specific principles identified by experts in the 2013 Oxford University Press book, Closing the Opportunity Gap, which Welner edited along with Stanford University Professor Prudence Carter. Specific practices include effective student and faculty support systems, outreach to the community, health and psychological support, judicious and fair discipline policies, little or no tracking, and high-quality teacher induction and mentoring programs.

For more information please visit the Schools of Opportunity website at


The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit