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Personalizing the High School Experience for Each Student


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Why is it that so many students see high school as a prison sentence to be endured rather than a time to learn and grow? According to DiMartino and Clarke, many high school students feel invisible and isolated. They don't see the relevance of what they are being taught, and they don't see how their classes are preparing them for success as adults. This book offers a new vision for high schools—a vision that puts students at the center of their own learning. Personalized high schools engage students by allowing them to plan and develop their own pathways through school based on their talents, interests, and aspirations.

Table of contents

Personal Learning Plans

Personalized Teaching

Community-Based Learning

Personalized Assessment

About the authors

Joseph DiMartino, founder and president of the Center for Secondary School Redesign, is a nationally recognized leader in the area of high school redesign. 

For nearly a decade, he served as director of the Secondary School Redesign Program at Brown University, where he gathered a diverse assembly of educators willing to experiment with high school personalization and student engagement. 

While at Brown, DiMartino wrote many articles, edited several books, and designed a series of workshops for high schools exploring reform.

He is closely associated with NASSP, where he was one of the main architects of Breaking Ranks II. In recognition of his contribution to Breaking Ranks II and Breaking Ranks in the Middle, he received the NASSP Distinguished Service award in 2006. 

DiMartino has presented his research and writing extensively at national conferences, including those sponsored by ASCD.

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John H. Clarke began teaching high school English in Massachusetts in 1966. He moved to Vermont in 1977 to teach secondary education and help run a teaching improvement program at the University of Vermont. He joined the research team working on the Secondary Initiative at LAB—the Education Alliance at Brown University—focusing on student engagement and high school personalization. Often with others, he has written or edited several books and many articles, focusing on high school change, high school teaching, and thinking strategies. He helped create a system of professional development schools in Vermont, linking teacher preparation and school improvement. For more than 20 years, he has worked to engage all students with the faculty and staff at Mount Abraham Union High School in Bristol, where he received an education recognition award in 2002. In the same year, he received the Vermont ASCD Leadership award. He continues to teach writing and thinking skills in Vermont. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 802-453-2681.

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