Doing What Some Said Was Impossible
I came to Ed Trust in 2004 to help find high-performing schools with significant numbers of students of color and students from low-income families and then figure out what it is they do.
These were the (relatively) early days of No Child Left Behind, and many people around the country were saying that the federal goal that just about all students meet their state’s reading and math standards by 2014 was unrealistic because not all kids were capable of meeting standards.
I had asked an intern to scour the data to look for high-performing Delaware schools, and one day when I passed by his computer, I did a double-take. He had charts up that showed that a school had 100 percent of it students meeting standards. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that — here was a school that was doing what was said to be impossible.
Within days I was visiting that school — Frankford Elementary in rural Delaware — where I met an experienced principal who was delighted someone had noticed the hard work of her teachers and students.
Sharon Brittingham, about whom I write in Huffington Post this week, had been at Frankford since 1997, when it was low-performing and openly discriminating against its African American students — most of whom came from low-income families.
By 2004 it was one of the top-performing schools in the state. At Frankford I didn’t see a test-prep factory; I saw a school that taught all its students a rich, comprehensive curriculum. In fact, this picture of two Frankford students rather tentatively approaching the task of seining in a local river is one of my favorites and shows that the school made sure that its students had a wide variety of experiences as part of their education.
(To read more about Frankford, see It’s Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools.)
Photo courtesy of Frankford Elementary School.