All the NCLB talk has me thinking a lot of education this morning as I do laundry and clean up. I teach in a Catholic Junior-Senior high school on Long Island. Our student population is approximately 2,550. We are bursting at the seams at a time when other Catholic schools are closing down. It's not our tuition: as a school in the $6000 range, I know we can't afford to send our own kids to the school in which I teach. So we must be doing something-- or a lot of somethings-- right. I thought this might be another way to approach the NCLB discussion-- find out what different schools are doing RIGHT. Maybe we can find some common denominators. So here goes, but I'll leave out the huge religious emphasis. - Our school has a very narrow focus. We are a college prep school. We have no special education. So all our kids are focused on the same type of education-- that which will prepare them for college and life beyond college. - Each child in my school takes a full academic program. There aren't many electives beyond a choice of language. Our seniors don't have those "early dismissal days because my classes are over at 10 am" stories that I read about. - We have a real emphasis on the basics. Everyone takes 4 years of math. All Seniors take English Composition. Grammar is strongly emphasized. There are very few bells and whistles-- our kids leave our building knowing the basics. - We have 3 "tracks"-- honors, an average track, and a below average (but still college prep) track. As a result, our classes are homogeneous. No one child is miles ahead or miles behind his classmates. - We identify weaknesses. Our below average freshmen don't take a language. Instead they alternate between double period English one day and double period math the next. The idea is that a student who is proficient in his first language will be better able to learn a second in college. - We teach Latin, and encourage students to take it, (All of our kids in grades 6-8 take Latin.) We find that they do much better in English with that Latin background. -We realize that some things beyond academics can stand in the way of academic achievement. We have a huge guidance program. WE have counseling groups for kids whose families are in crisis, because of death or divorce. We have a drug and alcohol counselor on staff. I think we run AA meetings during the school day; I'm not sure about that. Not because our kids have any more problems than in other high school, but because they have exactly the same problems. We just choose to acknowledge it. -We offer huge support to new teachers. New teachers have informal mentors to help them over the bumps. The AP has New TEacher meetings every Tuesday afternoon. They discuss everything from "how many failures is acceptable?" to "How do you proctor a test?" to "How do we begin a class?" - We have large classes. The payback is that those class sizes enable us to offer a salary that's competitive with local public schools. - We can count on support from the administration. If it ever comes down to my word against that of a kid, I know the administration is in my corner. There's a lot more, but I'll stop there. What does YOUR school do right???