Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph

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Kristina Rizga embedded herself at Mission High School in San Francisco for four years to learn how this “failing” school had better outcomes for minorities than others in the district, sent 84 percent of its graduates to college, and had high-ranking parent and student satisfaction surveys. Through the stories of the students and teachers that she spoke with, we learn how one school tackles many of the big issues in education, including racial disparities, bullying, teacher performance and measurement and yes, standardized testing. The book, however, is so much more than that. Those same stories bring up questions of how even the smallest detail in the way we interact with others can affect their response to us. It offers examples of how colleagues can work closely to help both themselves to improve as well as the students they work with. It looks at how thinking through each step in a process can give it the intent and momentum needed to see it through to the end, and then to build on it. All the elements of the human condition are presented in the book – struggles, doubts, pain and suffering; and all the pathways through it are there as well – trust, relationship, presence, focused energy and dedication. Inspiring, heart-warming and informative.

Mission High : One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph

Kristina Rizga, a former education reporter for Mother Jones magazine, tells the story of Mission High, a culturally diverse high school in San Francisco with a low socioeconomic student population. Its students don’t score particularly well on standardized testing but the school has excellent rates of attendance, teacher retention and college admission.
In the process of studying what works Ms. Rizga focuses on the principal, individual teachers and specific students. She identifies a cluster of factors that make Mission High work. A fascinating and thought-provoking read.