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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. Included: A look at one school's approach to improving student performance.

The Napa Valley Register reported on the excitement at a local school at the news of making it off the federal list of schools in need of improvement. "Shouting with joy and dancing around are not technically part of the curriculum at Carneros Elementary School. But these days, staff at the school on a rural lane among the vines southwest of Napa are celebrating some very good news," according to the article. "Last month, the school climbed off of the federal government's official list of troubled schools, as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act. That means test scores for Carneros students are on a dramatic upswing"

"'We had a huge change in the way we worked together,'" said principal Donna Drago in the article "'We started making time for collaboration. We'd bring in substitutes, and the regular teachers would spend the entire day doing long-range planning, looking for best ways to teach concepts, and looking at assessment results.'" Drago's team also embraced "Academy for Success," a series of strategies for Program Improvement schools. These sessions consisted of numerous weekend and summer meetings, the article reported.

""We decided we needed to start talking to our kids about a future," Drago continued in the article. "'We don't want our kids to be done with school and only earn minimum wage." Staffers asked two questions of students, according to the story. First, "'What do you want to be when you grow up?'" And secondly, "'Where do you want to go to college?'"

Carneros is one of Napa's smaller public schools, with 184 students. Drago said that having a small student population made it easier to turn things around quickly. "'Being a smaller school had a huge impact on our success'" said Drago in the story. "'We don't lose kids, nobody falls through the cracks.'"


Some of the information in this article comes from the U.S. Department of Education. To learn more about this article, you might read:

  • Carneros Elementary climbs off troubled school list
    This news article appeared in The Napa Valley Register on October 21, 2005. Note: This link was live at the time of publication. Some newspaper Web sites require registration. Others retain complete news stories for a limited time.
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