Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Writing at the heart of turning around a failing school...

Judy Sheridan sent us this interesting link from the New York Times. It reports on a large high school in Massachusetts (4000+) students that went from a failure factory to scoring in the 90th percentile of all Massachusetts students on state tests. The Times is pitching the story as a counterpoint to the "received wisdom in many educational circles — that small [schools are] almost always better....A new movie, “Waiting for Superman,” for example, portrays five charter schools... most with only a few hundred students...as the way forward for American schooling."

So what, you might wonder, enabled the turnaround of this large urban school in which a third of students were dropping out and only a quarter were passing state tests? I'm glad you asked! According to the Times, it was this:

Susan Szachowicz and a handful of fellow teachers decided to take action. They persuaded administrators to let them organize a schoolwide campaign that involved reading and writing lessons in every class in all subjects, including gym. Their efforts paid off quickly. In 2001 testing, more students passed the state tests after failing the year before than at any other school in Massachusetts.

How about that?