Dispelling the Myth

With our Dispelling the Myth Awards, The Education Trust recognizes schools around the country that demonstrate the power educators have to help their students.

About Dispelling The Myth

Dispelling the Myth schools are doing the right thing for kids: providing a rich, coherent curriculum and making it interesting and engaging for their students. In the process, they are making themselves the kinds of places where teachers want to teach.

We highlight these schools as a way of honoring not just the educators in their buildings, but all the thoughtful, dedicated, and hard-working educators throughout the country who are striving to improve education for all children. Their success dispels the damaging myth that schools can do very little to help students overcome the barriers of poverty and discrimination.

How Award-Winning Schools Help Students Achieve at High Levels

We don’t pretend that we are presenting everything that is important to tell about them, but when you click on a school’s name you will see what the demographics of the school were when the award was presented as well as a little about their achievement data and a short description of the school. In addition, we include information about what has happened to the school since receiving the award.

In some cases, the school is still going strong. In others, personnel or other changes have meant that the school is not doing as well as it once was. This underlines the fact that schools are complicated organizations that cannot simply declare victory and coast to success. Ensuring the success of students is, rather, a continual challenge requiring thought, hard work, and a lot of heart.

Each year from 2003 to 2014 Education Trust recognized with its Dispelling the Myth Award a handful of schools where children of color and children from low-income families are doing exceptionally well.

All DTM schools serve significant numbers of low-income students or students of color, and they have student achievement results that put them near the top of their states — not just in one subject or for one year but across subjects, grades, and years. They have small — sometimes non-existent — achievement gaps.

For the most part, they are regular neighborhood schools taking all children who live in their catchment areas. In a few cases, Ed Trust has honored schools that hold lotteries to select their student bodies. The schools in those cases only require students to submit simple contact information up front. They do not screen students by teacher recommendations or prior academic records.

These books are providing insight to the education field in understanding how schools need to change in order to help all their students learn to high levels — even those burdened by poverty and discrimination.

It’s Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2007), by Ed Trust’s writer-in-residence Karin Chenoweth, profiles some Dispelling the Myth schools along with a few other rapidly improving high-poverty schools. It lays out 25 common characteristics of these schools.



HOW It’s Being Done: Urgent Lessons from Unexpected Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2009), by Chenoweth, describes the five common practices Dispelling the Myth schools share.



Getting It Done: Leading Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2011), by Chenoweth and Ed Trust director of research Christina Theokas, examines the role of school leaders in the success of their schools.



Ed Trust’s webinar series, produced with support from The Wallace Foundation, feature DTM educators and are available on-demand.

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