A Texas high school offers students support and an array of rigorous learning opportunities; student achievement scores show their efforts are paying off.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals has released a list of Breakthrough Middle and High Schools for 2008. NASSP and the Metlife Foundation have recognized these schools, all of which serve many poor students, for dramatically improving student achievement. ...
Story posted November 9, 2009. Results updated February 27, 2013. Note: You can read more about Viers Mill at http://www.learningfirst.org/collaboration-viers-mill.
- In 2012, over 95% of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students met proficiency standards on state reading tests
- In 2012, over 98% of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students met proficiency standards on state math tests
- In all instances, the school outperformed the state despite serving a higher percentange of students in poverty
If you're looking for a Cinderella story, get to know the people at Viers Mill Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland:
One of the [paraeducators] who had been here a long time said, "you know, they used to call this place 'slumville.'" Now, she says "the President's visiting here...." He came to our school for the work we did. He didn't just happen to show up.... It was the apotheosis of my entire career.... The President of the United States--the President of the United states!--is in our cafeteria...because of the work that went on in this building....
That's Susan Freiman, Viers Mill's staff development teacher, describing President Obama's surprise visit to the school last month. She worked hard with her colleagues to turn the once struggling elementary school into a national exemplar where almost every student is proficient on state tests. That is no mean feat for a school where most students are from low-income families and ...
Story posted March 1, 2011. Results updated January 22, 2013
- In 2011, 10th graders outperformed the state in proficiency rates in both reading and math. In reading, proficiency was at 93.4% compared to 85.1% in the state, and 93.3% for math compared to 78.7% in the state.
- In 2011, 11th graders scored 100% proficient in both reading and math; statewide, proficiency levels were 93.5% for reading and 88.1% for math.
- Graduation rates went from only 18% less than a decade ago to 91% in 2010.
- In 2010, Taft was named a Blue Ribbon School to recognize it's new discipline strategies, increased personal attention to students, and stellar graduation improvement
Nearly a decade ago, Taft Information Technology High School graduated only 18 percent of its students, struggled with student discipline, and offered only limited extracurricular activities. Today it is an entirely different—and greatly improved—model school. In fact, Taft was named a 2010 Blue Ribbon School. A radical restructuring led to Taft’s success. A new principal, new discipline strategies, and more attention paid to individual students (teachers now compose individual education plans) have contributed to a higher graduation rate. Last year, Taft’s graduation rate was 95 percent.
Anthony Smith, the current principal and a Taft alumnus, has reinstituted a broad array of extracurricular activities, including football and basketball teams, and the band. Smith has also continued technological improvements and investments at the school.
Don Ellis, who has taught mostly government and economics, has witnessed the school’s transformation firsthand. When he arrived at Taft 27 years ago, a housing project surrounded the school; at that time, students’ problems were often those associated with poverty, such as ...
Story posted September 25, 2008. Results updated January 22, 2012.
• While serving a student population that is 97% free or reduced price lunch, the school outperformed the state in math in grades 4 through 8 in 2011.
• In English/Language Arts, the school outperformed the state in grades 4 through 7 in 2011.
• One highlight: 83% of 8th graders met or exceeded state standards in math, compared with just 60% statewide in 2011.
Osmond A. Church Elementary School, otherwise known as PS / MS 124, sits so close to John F. Kennedy Airport that some at the school refer to it as "Hanger 12." It is appropriate, then, that achievement scores have "taken off" in recent years and continue to soar within all subgroup populations.
How has this been accomplished, one might ask? It began in 1999 when the school applied to New York State for a Comprehensive School Reform Grant. The school community chose to embrace E.D. Hirsch's "Core Knowledge Program," which was developed on the basis of scientific research. ...
Story posted April, 2008. Updated December, 2011.
- 75 percent of participating students showed an increase in state reading scores, and 77 percent did so in math
- More than 80 percent of participating seniors graduated, compared to less than 60 percent for the district
- SUN schools served nearly 18,000 youth and about 3,700 adults in enrolled programming in 2009-2010
Young people have a voice in Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes the city of Portland. When the county began planning a community school initiative, not only did young people contribute ideas, they also named it. The name they chose, Schools Uniting Neighborhoods, or SUN schools, reflects the belief that schools, working with their communities can do more than just teach math and reading, they transform neighborhoods and help young people succeed. ...
Story posted August 11, 2011
- Thanks to enhanced literacy skills and the efforts of a highly effective graduation coach, the class of 2010 had an impressive 95% graduation rate, compared to 66% six years ago
- Elementary students have made great strides in both reading and math performance over the past few years: 94% in reading, 97% in math on the 2011 Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT).
- Schools have a new atmosphere of collaboration and respect among administrators, teachers, and students
Sandwiched between interstates, industrial plants and a 2.3-mile Birmingham International runway sits the small urban community of Tarrant, Alabama. Tarrant City serves about 1300 students in four schools: elementary (K-3), intermediate (4-6), middle (7-9) and high (10-12). Many of Tarrant’s children grow up in poverty, live in substandard Section 8 housing, and breathe air tainted by industrial pollution. The district has one of the highest eligibility rates for free or reduced-price lunch in the Birmingham metro area.
The city has an aging population with little space to develop new middle-class homes. Over the past decade and a half, Tarrant has experienced a dramatic demographic shift as traditional blue-collar and industrial employment began to disappear and ...
Story posted July 25, 2011
- Over the past five years, the percent of students meeting or exceeding standards on the ISAT has consistently increased
- The number of students in honors courses is steadily increasing: In the 2009-10 school, 62% of the student body was enrolled in one or more honors class [34% of whom were Black and 37% of whom were low income]
- Attendance at parent-teacher conferences and other contacts are above 90%
Franklin Middle School is located in the heart of an economically challenged neighborhood in the small urban city of Champaign in central Illinois. Though staffed by dedicated adults and attended by hardworking students, Franklin is recovering from a difficult past.
As a result of years of racial discord, segregation, and lawsuits, in January 2002, the Champaign Unit 4 School District adopted a judicial consent decree outlining an educational equity agreement. Key points included establishing processes for parental choice of schools and increased community involvement. ...
Story posted January 29, 2009.
Updated March 23, 2011.
• In 2010, more than 90% of students in grades 3-5 met or exceeded state standards in reading, math, and science
• Named a Title I Distinguished School for four years running
"Today, class, we're going to cover SOL 3.1, scientific investigations," says Frenishee Smith, a third-grade teacher at J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond, Va., referring to Virginia's Standards of Learning. "What do you have on your body that helps you make observations?"
"Your brain," answers one student.
"Exactly, because your brain tells everything what to do. That's our computer. What else?"
After each student called upon names the five different senses, Smith pulls out from her desk drawer an empty food can covered with a black sock and little colored pom-poms. "Before we go on, I want to introduce you to my field can," she says, which is met with ...
Story posted March, 2008.
Results updated January, 2011.
• In 15 out of 16 standardized tests in 2010, students scored above state averages
• 84% of students met or exceeded proficiency standards on state reading tests in 2009
• 84.1% of students met or exceeded proficiency standards on state math tests in 2009 ...
Story posted December 9, 2010
• In both 2009 and 2010, Alcott's students outperformed their peers in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District
• In 2010, Alcott's fifth-graders outperformed their peers across the state in reading, math and science
Louisa May Alcott serves a challenging population: 100 percent of students are economically disadvantaged and about a third are designated as special education. Students often enroll with emotional and social problems, difficult family issues and low academic achievement. But thanks to an outstanding faculty and staff, these hurdles are by no means insurmountable. On the 2009 state assessment, Alcott students outperformed Cleveland students in general: 77 percent scored proficient in reading, compared with 49 percent districtwide. Similarly, 75 percent of Alcott students were proficient in math, compared with 41 percent of students who were proficient districtwide. The results for special needs students were just as impressive—in both math and reading, Alcott students significantly outperformed their peers districtwide.
Regional superintendent Cliff Hayes Jr. has lauded the leadership of the school, noting its “culture of ‘we.’”¹ Alcott principal Eileen Stull is known for consensus building and collaboration, as well as her open-door policy for continued conversations about curriculum and instruction. Yet Stull is hesitant to take credit; she attributes the school’s success to students’ families and her staff. She says, “Honestly, I have the most fabulous teachers here.”² Parents appreciate the community atmosphere, saying that Stull seems to ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
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