What It Takes for a High-Poverty School to be Successful
In my most recent Huffington Post column, I wrote about the transformation of the neighborhood around Centennial Place Elementary in Atlanta. That prompted me to go back and reread what I wrote about Centennial Place in It’s Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools. I was struck anew with how driven educators in successful high-poverty schools are and the uncompromising language they use.
Centennial Place back then was very high achieving and had easily met the target set by the federal No Child Left Behind law known as Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, which was proving a difficult bar for many schools. But then-principal Cynthia Kuhlman told me that she hardly ever thought about AYP. “We would never be happy meeting that,” she said. “AYP is not good enough for us.”
Similarly, her assistant principal, Barbara Preuss said, “You’ve got to keep getting better. We’re about making sure our children are successful — whatever it takes.”
Both Kuhlman and Preuss left Centennial Place some time ago. For years Kuhlman has been telling me that I would be excited about their next project, and I was finally able to go back to Atlanta to see what it is. I am excited and will be reporting on it soon.
In the meantime, if you want to read about another wonderful school that won Ed Trust’s Dispelling the Myth award in 2011, Pat Wingert of Atlantic.com is spending a year following Laurel Street Elementary and its transition to the Common Core State Standards. The first installment demonstrates the kind of dedication and drive necessary for high-poverty schools to be successful.