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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. Included: Information about one schools reform strategy

Courtesy of The Achievement Alliance

In just a few years, M. Hall Stanton Elementary in Philadelphia went from a school where very few students met state standards to one where most of the pupils could make the standard.

What made the difference?

An effective combination of practices that are worthy of careful study by anyone interested in raising the academic achievement of poor and minority children helped Stanton turn around. Those practices include a careful reorganization of instruction, comprehensive professional development of teachers, close examination of student data, a curriculum tightly aligned to state standards, and shrewd use of federal Title I dollars.

As a result of those efforts, scores on state tests skyrocketed when 71 percent of Stantons students met state reading standards and 47 percent met state math standards in 2003-04. The year before, only 13 percent of the students met the state reading standards and 20 percent met the math standards. The growth was so dramatic that the district retested the students to make sure there had been no mistake or deception.

And when the 2005 test scores were released, showing that 73 percent of the students met state reading standards and 84 percent met state math standards, it was clear that 2004 had not been a one-year fluke.

One sudden change was the introduction of a new, city-wide reading and math curriculum for the 2003-04 school year. For the first time, all elementary schools in the city were working on the same material at the same time. This meant students transferring from other city schools spent less time getting caught up in their new classes.

Principal Barbara Adderley also organized the school into three academies, so teachers became familiar with a particular group of students.

SOURCE: The Achievement Alliance

To read the full story, see M. Hall Stanton Elementary School: Its Being Done

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