Today’s high school graduates must leave their senior year with a different skill set than in the past and, it follows that high schools should change to meet the new expectations. That’s the basis for a new work by Eric Ban, BS’91, EdD’04 from the IU School of Education and a longtime educational administrator and entrepreneur. Ban has published College Acceleration: Innovating Through the New American Research High School, a book that outlines a vision of a 21st century high school preparing students for college and careers, a vision put into practice by Ban as principal of Crown Point (IN) High School.

Ban said the basic difference between today’s high schools and those of the past is that schools that might have parsed students into tracks towards careers or higher education no longer have that task: all students are expected to have some exposure to college. “Our expectations have shifted and we’re no longer challenged to sort,” Ban said. “We’re challenged to help all kids experience postsecondary success. To do that, we have to design systems personalized for every kid and help them maximize their talents and work towards their goals.”

The book is premised on the idea that high schools should better prepare students for postsecondary education by building on innovation and research, much like teaching and research hospitals. Ban said the schools should partner throughout the community to create best practices for each school and each student, allowing for a personalization of education that can fit each student’s growth. “We want to put every kid on a path to success to progress toward their goals,” Ban said.

Part of the plan is to make sure parents and students get regular transcript updates, have comparative data to track whether a student is progressing in the proper manner—including by comparison to others with similar goals—and making certain the families understand what the assessment data and other feedback is revealing.

In Crown Point, Ban said his school has put the plan in place by working closely with community partners, including other schools, local industry, and others. “What we’ve done in Northwest Indiana is we’ve had the conversation around ‘what are the job bases, what are the emerging workforce needs of our region and how can we as a collection of high schools in this region respond to that?” Crown Point is a part of the “College Acceleration Network,” a consortium of these partners including the Indiana Department of Education, The Lumina Foundation, and ACT.

Several education and public policy experts and observers have praised the book. “Ban’s system is driven by performance data without sacrificing important interrelationships among all parties to the educational process,” wrote Morton J. Marcus, former director of the Indiana Business Research Center and faculty emeritus at the IU Kelley School of Business. “Without the strident tone of a revolutionary tome, College Acceleration enlivens the discussion of how to improve education in these difficult times.”

Ban is completing his work at Crown Point, where he has served as principal since 2008. On July 1, he becomes a member of the faculty at American College of Education and will also take an executive role with Academic Partnerships, an online learning company that he helped found. Ban has earned considerable notoriety for the work he has done at Crown Point. The Indiana Association of School Principals named him District 1 High School Principal of the Year in 2011. The IU School Administration Association based at the IU School of Education also presented him with the 2011 Indiana University Emerging Leader Award.

Hear more from Ban about College Acceleration in this short video.

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