Coalition of Essential Schools

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The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) is an organization created to further a type of whole-school reform originally envisioned by founder Ted Sizer in his book, Horace's Compromise. CES began in 1984 with twelve schools; it currently has 600 formal members.

The Common Principles[edit]

The Coalition was founded on nine "Common Principles" that were intended to codify Sizer's insights from Horace's Compromise and the views and beliefs of others in the organization. These original principles were:

  1. Learning to use one's mind well
  2. Less is More, depth over coverage
  3. Goals apply to all students
  4. Personalization
  5. Student-as-worker, teacher-as-coach
  6. Demonstration of mastery
  7. A tone of decency and trust
  8. Commitment to the entire school
  9. Resources dedicated to teaching and learning
  10. Democracy and equity (this principle was added later, in the mid-nineties)


Originally CES was run centrally from Brown University, limiting its activities to schools on the east coast. Later, the organization created regional "Centers" to coordinate CES-style reforms, coach teachers and administrators on school change, and evaluate schools for membership in the coalition. Eventually the national organization became only a coordinating body with relatively little direct interaction with schools, limiting itself to coordinating between Centers, presenting a national public face for the organization, and organizing the annual CES convention, the Fall Forum. Since 1997, the organization has been based in Oakland, California.

Supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Coalition of Essential Schools is engaged in a five-year initiative to establish ten new CES high schools, create a network of 22 CES Mentor High Schools to be actively engaged in helping to support the creation of new small schools, convert two large high schools into several new CES small schools, and document the CES principles and mentoring approach through an online resource, a "Mentor Schools Guide," and its network of Centers.[1]

List of members of the Coalition of Essential Schools[edit]

This is an incomplete list of more than 600 CES member schools:

Federal Hocking High School, Stewart, Ohio[2]


  1. ^ CES Small Schools Project, CES website
  2. ^ I am the principal of the school, we joined CES over 18 years ago

See also[edit]

External links[edit]