High Schools That Work is the nation's first large-scale effort to engage state, district and school leaders and teachers in partnerships with students, parents and the community to improve the way all high school students are prepared for work and further education.

HSTW provides a framework of goals, key practices and key conditions for accelerating learning and setting higher standards. It recommends actions that provide direction to schools as they work to improve academic and career and technical instruction at school and the work site. These recommendations meet the criteria for comprehensive school reform.

The HSTW effort is based on the belief that, in the right school environment, most students can learn complex academic and technical concepts. The initiative targets high school students who seldom are challenged to meet higher academic standards.

As our nation seeks to maintain its competitiveness in the world economy, HSTW offers school systems and schools a unique opportunity to prepare more students to communicate, solve problems, perform tasks and produce products – on the job and in a lifetime of learning. To help schools customize site action plans in order to reach their improvement goals, HSTW provides intensive technical assistance, focused staff development, targeted assessment services and ongoing communication and networking opportunities.

HSTW began with 28 sites in 13 states when it was started in 1987 by the Southern Regional Education Board - State Vocational Education Consortium. Since then it has grown to more than 1100 sites in 23 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.


High Schools That Work has two major goals:

  • To raise the mathematics, science, communication, problem-solving and technical achievement of more students to the national average and above.
  • To blend the essential content of traditional college-preparatory studies – mathematics, science and language arts – with quality career and technical education by creating conditions that support school leaders, teachers and counselors in carrying out key practices.