HSTW has identified a set of Key Practices that impact student achievement. Following are the HSTW Key Practices that provide direction and meaning to comprehensive school improvement and student learning:
High expectations — Motivate more students to meet high expectations by integrating high expectations into classroom practices and giving students frequent feedback.
Program of study — Require each student to complete an upgraded academic core and a concentration.
Academic studies — Teach more students the essential concepts of the college-preparatory curriculum by encouraging them to apply academic content and skills to real—world problems and projects.
Career/technical studies — Provide more students access to intellectually challenging career/technical studies in high-demand fields that emphasize the higher-level mathematics, science, literacy and problem-solving skills needed in the workplace and in further education.
Work-based learning — Enable students and their parents to choose from programs that integrate challenging high school studies and work-based learning and are planned by educators, employers and students.
Teachers working together — Provide teams of teachers from several disciplines the time and support to work together to help students succeed in challenging academic and career/technical studies. Integrate reading, writing and speaking as strategies for learning into all parts of the curriculum and integrate mathematics into science and career/technical classrooms.
Students actively engaged — Engage students in academic and career/technical classrooms in rigorous and challenging proficient-level assignments using research—based instructional strategies and technology.
Guidance — Involve students and their parents in a guidance and advisement system that develops positive relationships and ensures completion of an accelerated program of study with an academic or career/technical concentration. Provide each student with the same mentor throughout high school to assist with setting goals, selecting courses, reviewing the student's progress and suggesting appropriate interventions as necessary.
Extra help — Provide a structured system of extra help to assist students in completing accelerated programs of study with high-level academic and technical content.
Culture of continuous improvement — Use student assessment and program evaluation data to continuously improve school culture, organization, management, curriculum and instruction to advance student learning. (HSTW web site, 2007)