George Lucas Educational Foundation
9-12 High School

Why We Chose YES Prep

A checklist of essential qualities for Edutopia‘s Schools That Work series.

October 12, 2009

Our Schools That Work series explores what goes on at some of the most innovative, successful schools around the country. These range from schools with long-standing records of high performance to turnaround schools now on the road to substantially higher achievement. We visit each school to take a close-up look at its best practices and the specific challenges it faces, then we assemble a package of stories and hands-on tools that you can use to replicate some of the school's successes.

Even before we choose a school, we give it a hard look to make sure it delivers the kind of creative, effective, replicable practices that Edutopia can stand behind. Here's a quick look at the standards and the strengths we saw at YES Prep North Central.


  • Cohesive school culture with high expectations
  • Focus on 21st-century skills and themes
  • High student achievement and engagement
  • High or improving scores on standard measures
  • Use of authentic assessment with real-world application
  • Collaborative planning among teachers
  • Personalized instruction and regular use of assessment to shape teaching and learning
  • Close, trusting relationships between staff and students
  • Empowerment of teachers to help lead school improvement
  • Relevant, ongoing, job-embedded teacher training
  • Track record of sustained success for at least two years
  • Eagerness among staff to share best practices and help other schools replicate their success


  • Use of project learning and integrated studies
  • Availability and meaningful use of technology
  • Emphasis on inquiry and student-directed, rather than only teacher-directed, learning
  • Meaningful involvement of parents and community members

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Edutopia is a free source of information, inspiration, and practical strategies for learning and teaching in preK-12 education. We are published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
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