West Jasper Elementary Schools gains have impressed educators in its own state of Alabama and those from other states. The once low-performing school is now serving as a model for education reform. Included: A description of how a school turned around.
Courtesy of The Achievement Alliance
On the other side of the railroad tracks from the mostly well-off schools in Jasper, Alabama, is a little elementary school where 80 percent of the children are poor. Tucked into a hilly neighborhood where many of the houses are older wooden bungalows, West Jasper Elementary, which is almost evenly divided between African American and white students, was the traditionally low-performing school of Jasper City.
Many still think it isn't possible for the children in West Jasper to achieve at the same level as the other children in Jasper. But West Jasper is proving them wrong -- its students meet state reading and math standards at more or less at the same rate as students in the rest of Jasper and at much higher rates than the rest of Alabama. For example, 82 percent of its students -- 77 percent of its African American students and 86 percent of its poor students -- meet or exceed state math standards, compared to 72 percent, 59 percent, and 61 percent, respectively, in Alabama. For the most part its median scores on the norm-referenced SAT 10 test are above national norms -- a substantial change from the past, when students at West Jasper scored substantially below national norms.
Alabama is doing something very unusual: It is deliberately trying to replicate in other schools the educational DNA of West Jasper and 19 other "best-practice" schools in the state. Educators are identifying what elements have combined to improve those schools and then carefully and deliberately teaching those elements of success to other principals and school leaders. In this way Alabama is attempting to make all of its elementary schools at least as successful as West Jasper.
To read the full story, see It's Being Done: West Jasper Elementary School