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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. Included: Information about revamping an elementary school.

Courtesy of The Achievement Alliance

In most of Arkansas -- in most of the country -- the kind of demographics that Oakland Heights Elementary School has would spell low achievement levels and large gaps in achievement.

Parents at Oakland Heights -- except for the few who are self-employed in fields such as car repair and carpentry -- generally process chickens at the nearby Tyson plant or make frozen dinners at the ConAgra plant. Theyre mostly working poor, said the principal, Sheri Shirley, about her families.

At Oakland Heights, however, gaps have been narrowing as all children have begun to achieve at higher levels. For example, 80 percent of all students met or exceeded state reading standards in 2004 -- 81 percent of the white students; 82 percent of the Latino students; 74 percent of the African-American students; and 78 percent of the poor students. Although the 2004 data represents a slight dip from 2003, Oakland Heights has a higher percentage of students in some subgroups meeting or exceeding state standards than the rest of the state.

To get to this point, shortly after Shirley arrived four years ago, the teachers sat down with the states standards and their test scores, looking to see where their students fell short. In general they found they were not teaching in enough depthAll the teachers found they had to ramp up their instruction considerably.

Shirley, a National Board Certified Teacher, put several structures in place to make sure that instruction at the school became systematic, explicit and intentional.


The Achievement Alliance

To read the full story, see Its Being Done: Oakland Heights Elementary

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Education World's Working With NCLB feature highlights schools or districts with stories to share about how they are implementing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. If you have a Working With NCLB story to share, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio.