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Highly Adaptive Learning Systems: Research in Seven Redesigned High Schools in Alberta

Date: December 31, 2015
Author(s): Sharon Friesen, Michele Jacobsen, Barb Brown, & Gabriela Alonso Yanez
Published in: Alberta Education

Moving Forward with High School Redesign in Alberta provides a strategic framework for a theory of action for change. This strategic framework focuses on school culture, school leadership, school pedagogy and school structures. The foundational principles guiding this theory of action for change are: mastery learning, rigorous and relevant curriculum, personalization, flexible learning environments, educator roles and professional development, meaningful relationships, home and community involvement, assessment, and welcoming, caring, respectful and safe (Alberta Education, Redesigning High School).

In 2008-2009, Alberta Education initiated the High School Flexibility Enhancement Pilot Project. In 2013, this pilot wrapped up and Moving Forward with High School Redesign was initiated. Many high schools across Alberta are now involved in Moving Forward with High School Redesign.  While research was an essential component of the initial High School Flexibility Enhancement Pilot Project and many key features of the initiative were highlighted, it remained unclear what features might be transferrable to other high schools across the province.  As such, the present study was initiated. Using a mixed methods convergent parallel design, we (research team) examined what conditions existed within seven high schools and across all schools (i.e., culture, leadership, pedagogy and structure), the ways in which principals supported teacher professional learning within each school and across schools, and the ways district leaders supported principals’ learning across the schools in order to determine whether the initiatives undertaken built system adaptive capacity; that is, learning throughout the various layers within the system.

Friesen, S., Jacobsen, M., Brown, B., & Alonso Yanez, G. (2016). Highly adaptive learning systems: Research in seven redesigned high schools in Alberta. Alberta Education. Retrieved from