A great school district by design (and necessity) in Alaska – Another case study

Thank you to Max Ray for forwarding this to me. The award-winning Chugach School District (CSD), in the Prince William Sound in Alaska, stretches over 22,000 square miles and serves a little more than 200 students.

In the mid 1990s, recognizing that students throughout the district were struggling academically, the CSD undertook an impressive redesign process. This involved working together with stakeholders to develop clear purposes and then designing structures–including community-based schooling and home schooling–that met the needs of students and families. At the same time, they reshaped the definitions of achievement to reflect the purposes and resources of the school and community, developing a learning model that focused on meeting standards of learning instead of on amassing Carnegie units.

A strong positive indicator of rich school design, in my opinion, is rich access to data and information about the school(s). The CSD website is rich with data about both their design and their design process:

Chugach School District (CSD) involves all stakeholders in its strategic planning process – including students, parents, community members, and businesses – to develop a Shared Purpose, organizational performance goals, a five-year timeline of activities, and one-year targets. The goals address student learning and development in basic skills, individual needs of students, character development, transition skills, and technology.

This is impressive to me to say the least. Now admittedly, there are very few students in the CSD. At the same time, however, the challenges, particularly the physical, practical challenges are enormous.  What is most impressive to me throughout, is the central work of design, assessment, and redesign as an ongoing process.

Having said that, I love the results as well:


One comment

  1. It’s amazing to me how people are resistant to data driven analysis. “How do you know your project is achieving its goals?” “Well I am very familiar with the consumers and I know they are being served well.” It’s at that point I have trouble not screaming bull#@$! like some sort of deranged tourettes sufferer. When we moved from “random” sampling to looking at all cases, and providers had to be dragged kicking and screaming to this, their “well served” clients all of the sudden looked a lot less well served. If you can’t prove to me with cold hard facts that your service is making a difference, then I will automatically asssume it is a failure.

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