I think to make high schools more effective:
1) the goals need to be much more clear. Are we presenting a set of core knowledge deemed important? Are we preparing students for college? Are we preparing students for life? Know you goals and make EVERYTHING done in that school a piece of getting there. If it is not advancing your goals, you don't need it.
2) Good education is a partnership. It is a partnership between teacher and student. Between teacher and parent. Between student and parent. Between teacher and teacher. Between teacher and administration. Between school and the community and so on and so on. We need to recognize all the stake holders in a school and do whatever it takes to work together toward our well defined common goals for the school (see #1) If you are not a team player or do not agree with the goals of the school, then this should not be where you are.
3) Recognize and react to individual needs. First the students. what do they need? Be proactive. If we are meeting their needs right from the get go, then we have less problems to fix later on. Recognize the needs of those providing for the students and do our best to meet those needs. Teachers, administrators, parents, and the community at large each have our own needs that must be met in order for them to provide for the students. For example: As a teacher I have a list of things (tangible and intangible) that I need in order to provide for my students' needs. Each of the things on my list that I don't have makes it harder and harder for me to meet the needs of my students.