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Success Stories

Caring for the Future

NASSP's Principal Leadership Magazine, on behalf of Isaac Young Middle School, New York

Story posted November 13, 2008

• Once designated "in need of improvement," the school has recently been commended by the state of New York
• 80 students enrolled in high school-level courses in 2007, up from 30 in 2001
• 28% of students participating in high school-level courses in 2007 were minorities, up from 10% in 2002
• 99% of staff approve of administrators' efforts to empower educators

"Built by the Past-Ready for the Future" is more than a school motto at Isaac E. Young Middle School in New Rochelle, NY. Built in 1925, Isaac became the iconic U.S. secondary school when Dick Sargent's painting of it appeared on the cover of the October 17, 1959, issue of The Saturday Evening Post. The changes that the school has experienced over the last 55 years mirror changes in the suburban United States. ...

Closing the Gap: A Union/District Partnership Spells Success for Low-Income Kids

ABC Unified School District, California

Story posted October 9, 2008. Updated February 25, 2014

Students in ABC Unified currently outperform state averages in ELA across all grades.

*The district's collaborative efforts have expanded significantly since 1993 and continue to provide a strong foundation for supporting student learning. More information can be found in Collaborating on School Reform: Creating Union-Management Partnerships to Improve Public School Systems by Saul A. Rubinstein, Ph.D. and John E. McCarthy ...

Energizing Children's First Teachers

Scott Ebright, Ohio School Board Association Journal

A story about Canton City and Minerva Local (Stark) School Districts, Ohio

Story posted August 27, 2008

Spark Ohio Nwslttr 1 WEB.JPG

• 84% of participating parents are now at or above the national median in terms of engagement in academic stimulation
• SPARK kids do significantly better on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment for Literacy (KRA-L) than non-SPARK kids

"Who doesn't want their students to come to school ready to learn?" asked Joni T. Close, senior program director at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton. What parent, what principal, what superintendent and what school board member would disagree? But what influence do public schools have on their future students before they enter the schoolhouse door?

A lot, if you ask folks at the Canton City and Minerva Local (Stark) school districts. ...

Teachers Learning Together

Mary Russo, The Richard J. Murphy K-8 School, Massachusetts

Story posted July, 2008

• In 2005, 89% of students passed the Massachusetts math exam, up from less than 50% in 1999
• Now ranked in top 5% of Boston public schools on reading and math scores

In 1999, shortly before principal Mary Russo arrived at the Richard J. Murphy K-8 School in Dorchester, Mass., more than half the students failed the state math exam. Russo's mandate was to boost student achievement. To do so, she focused on establishing collaborative professional development practices that would help teachers learn from each other and work toward a common goal. With better instruction, she reasoned, those test scores would go up.

Teachers at Murphy now spend three times as many hours on professional development as the district requires. Every public school teacher in Massachusetts must ...

Community Helps Struggling School Reopen to Success

Coalition for Community Schools, on behalf of George Washington Community School, Indiana

Story posted July, 2008

• 10-15% average annual increase in standardized test scores for 4 years
• 100% of the school's first graduating students passed the math portion of the state Graduate Qualifying Exam and 90% passed the language arts portion (both district records)

It's hard to imagine that George Washington Community School was once struggling so badly that the school district had to close it. Today, the school is alive with activity and its students are thriving.

The transition did not happen overnight-and it would not have happened at all if it had not been for the powerful commitment and intensity of support from the community. The work to reopen the closed high school grew out of a grassroots desire by the community to provide an environment where young people, and their families, could succeed. Neighborhood residents envisioned a center of community collectively focused on improving graduation rates and preparing young people for post-secondary education. ...

Working and Learning Together as a Team

WestEd, on behalf of Granby High School, Virginia

Story posted July, 2008. Results updated May 27, 2014.


  • 92% of participating students passed the end-of-course test in Algebra II in 2013, up from 25% in 1998
  • The school meets or exceeds state's proficiency rates in many subjects, despite serving a more disadvantaged population

Granby1web.jpgGranby High School is a large, urban, and diverse high school in Norfolk, Virginia, serving over 2,200 students, nearly half of whom are considered economically disadvantaged. Here students are enrolled in and passing high-level math classes including Calculus and Statistics. However, 10 years ago, few Granby students were taking advanced math cours­es, and of those who did, few passed. The school was described as "a high school in distress with low academic achievement and a high incidence of behavioral problems." Granby needed a change. School leaders recognized the need to push all of their students to reach higher levels in math, not only to be successful in postsecondary education, but to prepare for career opportunities as well.

At this same time, Norfolk Public Schools instituted a whole-system overhaul and dramatically increased the focus on professional development. Since then, Granby students have made tremen­dous growth, especially in higher-level math courses.

Building strong math teachers: a challenging and important task
Granby High School offers a prime example of a school with a powerful approach to professional development that provides teachers with opportunities for ongoing learning where they can develop and maintain skills and content knowledge. The school's purposeful teacher education is ...

Promoting Academic Success through Community Partnerships

Coalition for Community Schools, on behalf of George Middle School, Oregon

Story posted June 6, 2008

• 79% of students improved their academic performance
• 87% of students increased state benchmark scores in reading
• 76% of students increased state benchmark scores in math

Historically, George Middle School (a very diverse school with 87% of students eligible for free or reduced lunch) has been known as one of the lower performing schools in the state. Now, after becoming a community school, the school is showing steady growth on academic indicators. In particular, student test scores are at or above the state average. Multnomah County's Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) initiative, together with the school's lead agency, Metropolitan Family Service (MFS), have been instrumental in providing the supports and resources necessary to make this happen. ...

Helping Dropouts Return to School

American School Board Journal, on behalf of Clarke County School District, Georgia

Story posted May 28, 2008

• 94% of students improved their grades after coming to Classic City High School
• 97% of students improved their attendance
• 150 students have graduated, with one-third pursuing post-secondary educational options

Clarke County School District's community has approximately 1,500 students ages 16 to 22 who are not enrolled in school-a number equal to the enrollment of each of its traditional high schools. The majority of these students are black or Hispanic, and many live in poverty. Because a high school education is critical to finding economically viable employment and because Athens-Clarke County has persistent, intergenerational poverty, the district decided to offer a way for dropouts to earn their diplomas. ...

Transforming a School's Culture, One Snack at a Time

Jane Quigley, Dr. Crisp Elementary, New Hampshire

Story posted May, 2008

• Improved school's nutrition environment
• The school cafeteria orders 30% more produce to keep up with demand
• Pre and post- program surveys indicate children eat more fruit, play outside more often and drink less soda

Dr. Crisp Elementary is an inner-city school in Nashua, NH that enrolls 425 students from preschool to grade 5. More than 65% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

In 2003, we had few guidelines regulating school nutrition. Children typically brought sugary snacks to schools. Classroom celebrations often included cupcakes, brownies and soda. The cafeteria's salad bar was empty.

In the fall of that year, the "Changing the Scene" program through the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension opened our eyes to the childhood obesity epidemic. Hardly a week went by without frightening reports on the health of today's children. We decided it was time take action. ...

Sayre High School and UPenn Join Forces to Improve Community's Health

Cory Bowman, Penn's Center for Community Partnerships, Pennsylvania

Story posted March, 2008

Sayre2.jpg Results:
• 50% drop in suspension rate
• 10% increase in attendance rate
• 90% of Family Fitness Night participants are eating healthier and exercising more

What do college students, an Ivy League university, an urban health crisis and teenagers living in poverty all have in common? Too many times, the answer is "not a thing" but at Sayre High School in West Philadelphia connections are being made that could very well save lives.

Responding to the issues that plagued his students - violence, gangs, drugs and a lack of access to basic health and dental care - the principal of Sayre School approached Penn's Center for Community Partnerships (CCP) in 2002 with the idea that having a health center on site would be a boon to the students and the community. Around the same time, a group of Penn undergraduates were focusing their efforts on helping to solve the healthcare crisis in West Philadelphia. The students' research and work with the community led them to propose the establishment of a community health promotion and disease prevention program at Sayre. ...

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