How High-Achieving, High-Poverty Schools Explain Their Success

Posted by on December 03, 2012

High poverty, high success

A new report from Public Impact investigates why some schools in high-poverty communities produce remarkable success where others fail. The report examines how principals, teachers, parents, and students define the keys to success, and highlights specific strategies and decisions in these high-achieving schools. It also looks at how schools sustain effective practices and what helps them weather reductions in funding. The schools in the study are a mix of traditional public schools, magnet schools, and a charter school, and face common challenges: tightening budgets, restrictive regulatory policies and labor agreements, parents whose socioeconomic situation makes it difficult for them to participate in their child’s education, and a high proportion of students ill-prepared for school. Successful schools in the study have principals who lead with a strong and clear vision, engage staff in problem-solving and decision-making, and remain focused on goals and outcomes. Leaders provide genuine opportunities and incentives for teachers to collaborate and share best practices, and teachers regard student data as clarifying and helpful, using it to inform instruction. Principals and teachers have high expectations for all students and reject excuses, and set high expectations for school discipline and student behavior. Schools offer nontraditional incentives for academic success and good behavior, and students feel valued, loved, and challenged. Principals and teachers do not view lack of parent and community support as an insurmountable barrier to student achievement. Finally, school leaders and teachers seek continuous improvement on many levels.

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