Nathan Monell, executive director of National PTA, has joined LFA's board of directors. A passionate advocate for parental engagement in schools and student achievement, Monell brings more than 20 years experience leading nonprofit organizations...
Public School Success Stories
Across the Country, public schools and districts are transforming themselves to prepare students for success in a 21st-century democracy and global society. Take a look at what educators and communities are doing right now to meet this challenge.
Or tell us what's working in your own school or district.
When Cole Young, former principal of Humboldt Elementary School, received an email from a nonprofit organization about how highly performing schools overcome challenges, he initially thought it was an ad asking his school to take part in a competitive application process.
It wasn’t, and Humboldt Elementary is one of five schools in the country highlighted in “Schools that Work,” a series created by Edutopia, a web-based resource and online community created by The George Lucas Educational Foundation. The site focuses on identifying and spreading innovative, replicable, evidence-based approaches to helping students learn better. ...
Story Posted April 29, 2015.
In the isolated, rural town of St. Paul, on the edge of the Ozark Mountains, the streets are dirt and the poverty is generational. Excuses and limits were once easy to accept here.
When Duerr took charge in 2011, St. Paul was a failing school, with lackluster test scores and falling enrollment, on the verge of being taken over by the state. Four years later, it is brimming with technology and ranked in the top 10 percent of Arkansas schools. ...
Story posted February 24, 2015.
- In 2013, fifth graders at Menlo Park Elementary school significantly outperformed their peers across the state in reading and math, despite having higher percentages of low-income students, English language learners and students with disabilities
Recently, the Education Trust honored three outstanding public schools at their Twelfth Annual Dispelling the Myth Awards ceremony. These schools were chosen because, “[they] are doing the right thing for kids: providing a rich, coherent curriculum and making it interesting and engaging for their students. In the process, they are making themselves the kinds of places where teachers want to teach.” ...
Story posted January 27, 2015.
- Troy Howard students outperformed their peers statewide in reading, despite the school serving a larger proportion of low-income students
- Growth in reading for Troy Howard students as a whole - and for the lowest performing quartile of students in particular - also surpassed state average
It’s just a short but beautiful drive from the picturesque city harbor on the bay in Belfast, ME, to 60 spectacular acres dotted with greenhouses, cold frames, a community garden, and beautifully designed and maintained flower beds. This is the inviting home of Troy Howard Middle School, which houses 400 energetic sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from small towns scattered around Waldo County, 730 square miles of land located in the eastern coastal region of Maine. The landscape and gardens are tied to the Ecology Academy, one of three learning academies established during Troy Howard’s turnaround from one of the poorest-performing schools in the state to a role model for other middle schools. ...
Story posted November 18, 2014.
- Approximately 96 percent of the roughly 40 seniors who graduate each year continue in some form of postsecondary education
- Students often enter projects in national competitions - and win
- Businesses praise the school's graduates, and about 40 partner with the school to sponsor internships
“Why do I have to learn this?” It’s a question that crosses the minds of many high school students, but one that Ian Furstenberg doesn’t need to ask. Because of his classes in such technical fields as digital electronics and automation, he can see the immediate connection between his schoolwork and his career interests; he dreams of becoming an engineer.
Furstenberg attends the Toledo Technology Academy (TTA), a career-tech school within the public school system in Toledo, Ohio. TTA teaches students in grades 7 through 12 using a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum. In addition to the traditional academic subjects of English, history, science, and math, TTA also provides engineering and technology courses, such as those Furstenberg is taking his junior year.
When he graduates from TTA, Furstenberg will leave with a career portfolio, which will include certifications attesting to his technical expertise as well as letters of recommendation from his teachers and the company that hired him for his school-sponsored internship. If he decides to work right after high school, he can present that portfolio, showcasing his knowledge and skills, to a prospective employer. Or he can submit it to a college admissions office along with the standard application. ...
Story posted July, 2008. Results updated November 18, 2014.
- In 2013, the school outperformed state averages in all tested subjects and grades.
- In 2013, 97 percent of 4 grade math students scored proficient, compared to 81 percent for the state.
When visitors step inside Pocomoke Middle School, they are immediately surrounded by a profound sense of pride and high expectations. Students are actively engaged in instruction, the classroom walls are covered with student work, and the halls are lined with pictures of students demonstrating success. ...
Story posted April, 2008. Results updated October 28, 2014.
• In 2013, Vail exceeded all state proficiency averages, across grades and subjects
• In almost all grade levels, students are scoring at or above proficiency at rates of 90% and higher in reading
Administrators and staff at the Vail Unified School District recognized they had a problem back in 2003. Student scores on the new statewide AIMS test showed a downward trend as children in Vail schools moved up through the grades. For example, while third-graders were scoring in the 70-percent range on average in math, by middle school and high school proficiency rates dropped into the teens.
"It was a real wake-up call," said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Debbie Hedgepeth. "Students weren't performing where we knew they could and should." ...
Story posted December 9, 2008. Results Updated October 28, 2014.
• In 2013, the school outperformed the state average on reading assessments in every grade, and by 10% or more in grades 3, 4 and 6
• In 2013, the school also performed well on math assessments, with all grades outperforming the state average by 10% or more
All children can learn. When a school staff truly embraces this core belief and openly demonstrates it to students, parents, and each other, dramatic improvements in academic performance can result.
Take, for example, Anne Fox Elementary School. Fox is a moderately low-income, demographically diverse school in the working-class suburb of Hanover Park, Illinois. The student population is 34 percent white, 30 percent Hispanic, 17 percent black, and 19 percent Asian/Pacific Islander. Students speak more than 35 different languages, and the school’s low-income and mobility rates are double the district average. Until recently, Fox School ranked dead last in academic achievement among the district’s 21 elementary schools and was known as a “problem spot.” ...
Story posted October 28, 2014.
- The graduation rate is up 7%, with some schools seeing even greater gains
- Overall test scores are up - for example, Tubman Elementary posted an 8% increase in reading, 13% increase in ELA, 14% increase in math, 12% increase in science and a 19% increase in social studies on the 2014 GA CRCT
- At Westlake High School, SAT scores increased 130 points in one year among the students taking new SAT prep classes
The South Learning Community (SLC) group of schools in Fulton County Schools in Atlanta heard the same old song – increased number of students, poverty up, and greater accountability – but now has a different second verse: “Graduation rates are up 7%, more 9th graders are on track to graduate, and we’re seeing big gains in SAT scores,” says Dara Wilson, area executive director, who works alongside Dr. Donald Fennoy II, area superintendent, to support this group of 27 schools (4 high schools, 5 middle schools, and 18 elementary schools) in south Fulton County, all but one Title 1 with high poverty. These gains are being realized as part of Fulton County School’s district-wide goals of 90% graduation rate, 85% college readiness, and 100% career readiness by 2017 ...
Story posted August 26, 2014
- Currently an Oregon Model school, a designation reserved for the highest-performing top 10% of schools in the state (a significant change compared to 2008, when student achievement was lackluster with significant achievement gaps)
James Johnston asked teachers at Alice Ott Middle School in Portland, OR, “What would you want done if your child’s name was on this list?” The discussions that followed led to building a new reading program intended to bring struggling students to grade level and enrich the skills of those already on grade level. Gone was the large amount of time spent on sustained silent reading that had no purpose other than having students read material of their choosing with no direct instruction. In its place was a tiered program of interventions designed to diagnose and eliminate reading difficulties. Complementing this approach was a schoolwide focus on literacy development across content areas. Every student would have a specific plan to develop and enhance his or her skills. The vision was to have all students on or above grade level by the end of eighth grade. ...