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Turnaround Tales

Read about the creative ways districts and schools are meeting NCLB mandates.

Back to Basics for Some Middle-Schoolers
While realizing that cutting social studies, science, and electives for some struggling students at North Tahoe Middle School so they could concentrate on math and reading could be controversial, teachers saw it as necessary to help students reach grade level.

Middle Schoolers Get New School, New Teachers
When Willow Run Middle School in Michigan was placed in restructuring, the district responded by building a new school, hiring new staff, and implementing a new curriculum.

District Focusing on Restructuring, Leadership
Rapid enrollment growth initially distracted Palmdale (California) Elementary School District officials from NCLB requirements, but the district finally had to seek new curriculum and governance strategies for schools in restructuring.

Restructuring Spurs Positive Changes
When failure to make AYP pushed two Michigan elementary schools into restructuring, teachers and administrators were spurred to make changes that included focusing broadly on student learning and higher-order thinking skills.

Determined Principal Sees Success at School With War-Weary Students
Even though Ware Elementary School in Fort Riley, Kansas, serves children from low-income Army families who are stressed by parents repeated deployments overseas, a determined principal has made sure students get the attention they need to succeed.

Pursuing Standards Pays Off
Californias Imperial High School took the state standards to heart when they were introduced in the 1990s, and began reshaping its curriculum and instructional strategies. The school now posts strong scores overall and in subgroups of students.

For One School, Core Knowledge Makes the Difference
For P.S./M.S. 124, Osmond A. Church School in Queens, New York, introducing the Core Knowledge program improved achievement, parent participation, and cooperation among teachers.

A Community Pitches In
When nine of Chattanoogas schools were listed among the lowest-performing in the state, local foundations teamed up to work with the school system to provide professional development, stabilize the faculty, and improve student performance.

New Focus Contributes to Turnaround
When reading scores at M. Hall Stanton Elementary in Philadelphia jumped almost 60 percentage points in one year, district officials initially were skeptical. But continued improvement showed that the gains were genuine.

On A Mission to Read at Rock Hall
Many of Rock Hall Elementarys students come from low-income or troubled homes, but they are posting reading scores comparable to schools in wealthier districts. A principal and faculty members well-versed in reading strategies are behind the success.

Using Data to Make Changes
Oakland Heights Elementary School in Arkansas has all the ingredients for a low-performing school -- which it was at one time. But data analysis, curriculum alignment, teacher teamwork, and strong leadership have moved it to the top tier.

Principal Sets Tone for Success
A large urban school with a diverse population, Lincoln Elementary School in Mount Vernon, N.Y., nevertheless posts scores above those in wealthier neighborhoods. A management style that supports teachers helps make the difference.

Staff-Inspired Changes Lead to Turnaround
Like many schools that serve poor and/or Native American populations, Lapwai Elementary School in Idaho could not seem to break out of the low-achievement rut. But a group of fired-up teachers pushed for changes that turned the school around.

Quality Instruction Builds Student Success
By focusing on quality instruction, Elmont Memorial Junior-Senior High School has helped its diverse student body make impressive gains. Administrators are required to observe teachers regularly and make suggestions for improving lessons and techniques.

Curriculum Maps Direct Learning
Curriculum maps drawn up by East Millsboro Elementary School teachers working in grade-level teams determine what students will learn and when. The school is posting some of the best test scores in Delaware.

Data-Driven Instruction Drives Reform
A new principal, changes to the teaching staff, a new instructional design, a district program for high-poverty schools that provides services, and an almost single-minded focus on instruction and data helped rejuvenate Dayton's Bluff Elementary School.

Principal is Force in High School Turnaround
Granger (Washington) High School principal Richard Esparza grew up working in the fields, determined to have a better life. Now he is helping his students to excel, by setting high standards and reorganizing the school.

Once Low-Performing School Sharing its Secrets for Success
West Jasper Elementary School's 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.

Atlanta School Surpasses Expectations
Staff members at Atlanta, Georgia's Capitol View Elementary School push themselves and their students to excel, because they know so many people expect them to fail. The school in a low-income area posts some of the best test scores in the state.

Principal Cites High Expectations for Success
Frankford Elementary School, a Delaware school with a diverse population of students from low-income families was honored by the U.S. Department of Education for its students' achievement. The principal cited high expectations as key to the success.

Seeing Progress in Subgroups
The No Child Left Behind Act has prompted Mobile County, Alabama, school officials to look more closely at the achievement of student subgroups. Focused efforts have led to gains among minority and low-income students.

Uniting to Beat the Odds
Faced with rock-bottom scores on the first version of Maryland's state tests, staff at Rock Hall Elementary School raised standards for students and increased professional development for teachers, and saw scores climb.

Learning to Read With Reading First
Teachers at Creekside Park Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska, began to see a big difference in their students' ability to read after introducing Reading First, the federal reading instruction program.

Curriculum Changes Lead to Gains
Once labeled as a school in need of improvement, Hannan Elementary School now is one of Georgia's Schools of Excellence. Staff increased time on reading instruction, and wove reading and math lessons into other subjects to help students improve skills.

Math Teacher Supports NCLB
While some say the No Child Left Behind Act's goal of having all students proficient in math and reading by 2013 is unrealistic, one California math teacher supports the law's high expectations.

Focus on Standards, Weaknesses Earn School Honors
With a stable school population and plenty of parent support, staff members at Galena Elementary in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, were able to zero-in on student weaknesses. The efforts earned the school state honors for the sixth consecutive year.

School Shows Success With Disadvantaged Students
Once on the list of schools in need of improvement, Logan Junior High School in Kansas has not only moved off the list, but also been recognized for narrowing the achievement gap among students in different socioeconomic groups.

Rallying Students, Teachers to Improvement
Talking dogs, a vibrant principal, and intensive extra help all contributed to Maryland's North Glen Elementary School eliminating the achievement gap between white and minority students.

Increasing Reading Time for All
Expanded reading time at South Clearfield Elementary School has helped all students, but particularly those who still are learning English. Twenty percent of the students at South Clearfield come from homes where Spanish is spoken.

Seeing the Benefits of Aligning Curriculum, Standards
A report from EdSource, an independent, nonprofit policy organization, indicated that aligning lessons with California's standards and using students' test scores to coach teachers and hold principals accountable make the biggest difference in student success.

Collaboration Key to Success
Determined to make a difference at Carneros Elementary School in Napa Valley, California, teachers began spending more time working together on best practices and long-range planning. The result is the school climbed off the NCLB watch list.

A Reading Turn-A-Round, Thanks to Reading First
By utilizing the structure, lessons, and funding provided by Reading First, staff members at an Idaho elementary school were able to change their schedules and approach to reading instruction, resulting in marked gains in reading scores.

Focus on Reading, Curriculum Yields Gains
Graphic organizers to help with student writing and requirements for more outside reading helped schools in Ypsilanti, Michigan, to make noticeable gains. One school made adequate yearly progress after falling short the past few years.

Broad Effort Closes Grade 3 Achievement Gap
By channeling the efforts of teachers, community members, and parents, staff members at Maryland's Viers Mill Elementary School were able to close the achievement gap in reading and math at the third grade level.

Reading Focus Pays Off for Seattle
Investment in reading instruction techniques paid off for the Seattle Public Schools this year, when students in all the grade levels tested posted gains in reading and the gaps between racial groups decreased as well.

Grant Supports Charter Schools
The No Child Left Behind Act provides grants to states to expand the number of charter schools. The U.S. Department of Education views charter schools as important alternatives in communities with struggling schools.

Celebrating Making AYP
After focused efforts by state and local school officials, two Arizona elementary schools were able to reach their adequate yearly progress marks after four consecutive years of falling short.

Improving Literacy With Reading First
Using the Reading First program at Norton Elementary School in Norton, Virginia, has led to gains in reading scores, professional development for staff, and more cooperation among teachers.

Nebraska Students Write On
Added emphasis on writing in Nebraska schools, as part of the effort to meet the No Child Left Behind Act requirements, has led to improvement in writing among all students, including those in subgroups.

Using literacy grants to improve library services
Literacy grants from the U.S. Department of Education are helping school districts like Oklahoma City to enhance their library media services with an eye toward improving reading.

Teacher-to-Teacher Workshops Aid Professional Development
Teachers looking for easily accessible professional development courses can check to see if their state awards credit for completing Teacher-to-Teacher digital workshops. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia now grant credit for the courses.

Wisconsin Reading Scores Soar
Third graders in Wisconsin made tremendous strides in reading last year, with the highest number scoring at the proficient level in the history of the test.

Good Communication Aids NCLB Implementation
Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Area School District officials didn't waste much time getting the word out about the No Child Left Behind Act to staff and parents. Brochures and public meetings helped people understand the mandates and how the district would meet them.

Capitalizing on Reading First Grants
Thanks to grants through the No Child Left Behind Act's Reading First program, two elementary schools in Colorado are beefing up their reading materials and resources and providing teachers with new professional development.

Ohio Governor Active in High School Reform
President George Bush has said he want the No Child Left Behind Act extended to cover high schools. Ohio's governor is involved with a coalition of governors who are exploring ways to raise high school standards.

Baltimore Students Benefit from Tutoring
Among the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is the requirement to provide children from low-income families with free tutoring. Families in Baltimore, Maryland, are seeing their childrens performance improve with individual instruction.

Early Readiness, Support Efforts Pay Off
The Waynesboro, Virginia, school district has been working with preschoolers and their parents for years to help children be ready for school and relies on a School Improvement Team when they fall behind. But expanded testing could mean problems with AYP.

Coping With More Mandates, Less Money
Students in the Orleans (Vermont) Central Supervisory Union are doing well and teachers are getting help to be highly qualified, but district officials wonder how they will manage with the increasing costs of NCLB.

Managing Resources in a Small District
Some educators and community members in the one-school Marlboro (Vermont) School District are dismayed with NCLB's testing requirements, and say test results are not a good picture of learning if you only have a handful of students in a class.

Ensuring Achievement for All Students
For a small, rural district, Cuero (Texas) Independent School District has posted impressive results for all its students, even those in major subgroups. The next challenge is ensuring that students with disabilities get the services they need.

Focused Professional Development Pays Off
A focused, extensive professional development program gave Berkeley County, South Carolina, schools a head start on NCLB requirements for highly qualified teachers and paraprofessionals.

District Shows Gains, Despite Fiscal Constraints
The massive state funding cuts that hit Oregon schools in 2003 hampered progress in meeting NCLB requirements. But districts like Tigard-Tualatin are making gains in reading and hope to better serve the district's subgroups.

Cleveland Forges Ahead
Despite budget cuts, inconsistent information, and multiple benchmarks to meet, officials in the Cleveland, Ohio, Municipal District are chipping away at NCLB requirements, and trying to improve communication with the public about the law.

A New Look at Secondary Education
Napoleon (North Dakota) school district officials are fortunate to have a solid professional development program in place as they look to address issues such as achievement in the secondary schools.

Capitalizing on a Running Start
In the 1990's, Wake County (North Carolina) School System began widespread reforms, many of which resemble aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act. District officials are building on that early start.

Searching for Strategies to Make AYP
To keep up with adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals, the Bloomfield, New Mexico, district reorganized its schools and grade distributions to serve more students effectively. A multi-year professional development effort also is underway.

Pumping Resources Into Teaching Staff
By investing Title I money in teacher training and recruitment, the Bayonne (New Jersey) School District has all highly qualified teachers. Professional development also helped in schools in need of improvement.

Facing the Challenges of Meeting AYP
The massive Clark County (Nevada) School District has seen success in having staff meet the highly qualified requirement, and hopes some new approaches will help its Title I schools meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) standards.

Small Heartland District Juggles to Meet NCLB
A new, small district in Nebraska, Heartland has limited personnel who have multiple responsibilities, but still is keeping up with NCLB. Strong showings by students make meeting mandates easier.

Using Small Schools to District's Benefit
Although the community has a high poverty level, the Hermitage (Missouri) School District continues to out-perform most districts in the state, thanks to small schools and dedicated teachers.

Planning, Seminars Lay Ground for NCLB
Knowing that NCLB deadlines would come soon, Pascagoula (Mississippi) School District officials held professional development sessions and public meetings about the law, so staff and the community knew what to expect.

Staff Focus Means Gains for Native Americans
Students in Cloquet (Minnesota) Independent School District # 94 performed well overall, but school officials were concerned about lower achievement by Native American students. Focused professional development led to improvement.

Forging Ahead, Despite Fiscal Challenges
Despite cuts in state and local funding that led to staff reductions and larger class sizes, Boston, Massachusetts, school officials are pressing ahead with an academic improvement plan, and has seen more students receiving supplemental services.

Focusing on Class Size, Professional Development
Avon, Massachusetts, school officials decided small classes combined with an extensive professional development program could help maintain high student performance on state accountability measures.

Reaching Out to Paraprofessionals, Parents
St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools officials are encouraging paraprofessionals to earn associate degrees and stressing early literacy as part of an improvement plan, as well as reaching out more to parents.

Teacher Teams Aid School Reform
Kansas City, Kansas, school officials got staff involved right away in meeting NCLB requirements, by setting up a Web-based professional development program and forming "audit teams" to review reading and math programs.

Chicago Works to Adapt to NCLB
The Chicago, Illinois, public schools, one of the largest districts in the U.S., started planning early for implementing the No Child Left Behind Act, but then ran into discrepancies between state and federal law and physical constraints.

Data Access Helps Teachers Plan
By providing teachers and staff members in the Joint School District # 2, in Meridian, Idaho, access to easily understandable data about students, teachers can tailor their lessons to meet the needs of different ability levels.

School Plans, Differentiated Instruction, Key to Raising Achievement
With individual school plans for raising achievement, differentiated instruction, and a focus on reading skills in the early grades, the Collier County (Florida) School District hopes to boost performance in its diverse district.

Finding Ways to Improve Instructional Time, Staff Quality
At the center of Colorado Springs District 11's plan to improve performance is recruiting and keeping solid educators, in part by collaborating with a local college. Strategies also have been developed to improve and expand instructional time.

Studying Subgroups to Make AYP
Grant Joint Union High School District staff members are using their experience with breaking down data to try to meet the needs of all student subgroups in the district.

Boosting AYP, Teacher, Paraprofessional Qualifications
By incorporating the state's accountability system into the definition of adequate yearly progress (AYP), and using grants and mentors to help teachers and paraprofessionals, Escondido (California) Union Elementary School District is seeing improvement.

District Re-Organization Aimed at Improving Accountability
In the 2002-03 school year, all four of the Fort Lupton Weld (Colorado) Re-8 School District schools needed improvement. A district re-organization and support for teachers and paraprofessionals seeking highly qualified status has helped turn things around.

Solid Professional Development Key to Student Achievement
Fayetteville, Arkansas, school officials decided the best way to improve student achievement was through professional development. They recruited specialists to work with teachers and gave teachers time to work together.

Partnerships, Technology Aid Rural Alaska District
Rural Kodiak Island Borough School District in southern Alaska is using partnerships with a local college to help its paraprofessionals become highly qualified, and distance learning to help students achieve AYP standards.

Reading Initiative Pays Off
The Calhoun County (Alabama) School District has been able to improve reading levels after training instructors in a new teaching strategy. Now the district plans to address weaknesses at the secondary level.

Collaboration Key to Meeting NCLB Mandates
Targeted assessments, collaboration, and professional development have helped schools needing improvement in the Grand Rapids, Michigan-area to make adequate yearly progress or get on the path toward meeting that goal.

Grant Enhances Curriculum
St. Louis (Missouri) school officials plan to use grant money to create schools with computer-based learning programs that will help improve test scores and keep students in the district.

Reaching the Highly Qualified Goal
The Houston County (Georgia) and the rest of the state are working to ensure their teachers are highly qualified as soon as possible. Computer software and determination are making that happen.

Reading Scores Rapid Rise
With the help of a $1.8 million grant and the hard work of teachers, a new reading curriculum was developed for three elementary schools in Tempe, Arizona, and reading scores have soared.

Creating Effective Choice Programs
Despite an established school choice program, schools in Cambridge, Massachusetts, either were wealthy and high performing or low-income and struggling. New efforts at school choice, however, are leading to shifting populations and improved performance.