Top 10 School District Turnaround Successes of All Time

Written by admin at 10:32:pm on 23rd January, 2011

Education has seen many great turnarounds in recent years; in part due to the No Child Left Behind act. However, many of the wonderful turnaround stories are mostly due to the diligence and persistence of great teachers and administrators. Here are 10 examples of great turnarounds in schools across the US.

  1. Chamberlain School District, South Dakota: Chamberlain’s school district has a large Native American population. Before the school fell under the No Child Left Behind act, just 27% of Native American students in the district were proficient in math, and just 45% were proficient in reading. Six years later, in 2009, 63% were proficient in math and 61% were proficient in reading.
  2. Viers Mill Elementary, Silver Spring Maryland: Viers Mill Elementary used to have the nickname “slumville”. But the school has had a major turnaround, that they like to call “gradual progress”. But, this gradual progress was so significant that it merited a visit from President Obama this year.
  3. Palmdale, California: For ten years in a row, the school district grew by about 1000 students per year, forcing the district to focus its resources primarily on building new schools to handle the influx. This led to a lack of effort in ensuring the standards were high. But, all that has changed. Now, math and reading assessments are given every six weeks, and their results are used to change curriculum focus as needed.
  4. Creighton Elementary School, Phoenix, Arizona: Two years ago, this district had six schools that were identified as “under achieving” and one as “failing to meet academic standards”. Today, these eight schools are all identified at least at the “performing” category, and most are at the “performing plus” designation.
  5. Nickloff Elementary School, San Diego, California: In 2007, this school was failing to meet API targets. But, by 2009, the school had raised its API scores by 67 points, quadruple the state’s average for the year.
  6. Hillsboro Deering Elementary School, Hillsboro, NH: In 2007, this school was in corrective action for English Language Arts. Over the course of two years, the school was able to reach all AYP targets, going from 32% of their students scoring substantially or partially below sufficient to 23%. In addition, students scoring at proficient or proficient with distinction rose from 68% to 77%.
  7. Shawnee High School, Louisville Kentucky: Shawnee was recently listed as one of the top 10 schools receiving focused turnaround attention from a national program.
  8. Boston, MA:11 elementary schools in Boston were the target of a program by Boston College. The program links each child to a tailored set of intervention, prevention and enrichment services within the community to enhance that student’s performance and well-being. So far results have seen students who previously ranked at the 50th percentile move to the 75th by grade 5 and students in the 25th percentile move to around the 50th.
  9. New Orleans, Louisiana: New Orleans schools have seen quite a turnaround since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In 2005 64 percent of the schools in New Orleans were deemed “academically unacceptable” by the state of Louisiana. Today, that number has been reduced to 42% and activities are ongoing.
  10. Digital Harbor School, Baltimore Maryland: Once plagued by violence and litter, Digital Harbor School is now a model for the turnaround an inner city school can achieve. Every student has a laptop, and students who come to the school reading under expectations are quickly put on a program to bring them up to standard.

There are, of course, thousands of schools that have seen great turnaround over recent years, in part due to a focus of federal money on programs for the lowest performing of these schools. And, as this funding goes forward, we can expect to see many more schools get the assistance and attention they need to improve the education they provide to students.

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