Proof that Turnaround is Possible – with Hard Work and Good Partners
Just a few years ago, Calverton School was the poorest performing middle school in Baltimore and “rape and murder capital of West Baltimore” . Today, Principal Tanya Green believes miracles happen, and she has witnessed three; (1) her leadership team is still in place (2) kids believe they can go to college and (3) teachers believe kids can go to college.
Delaware educators observed on a site visit that these miracles have been made by hard work and a dedicated team, supportive district conditions, an intensive focus on data, instruction, curriculum, and environment (DICE) and a community-supported partner. The school community, after the district identified it as a transformation school, selected Friendship Public Schools to work as their partner in April 2010.
Principal Green and her staff had the opportunity to visit other schools operated by Friendship, which has a successful track record as a social service provider and with charters and turnarounds in Washington, DC. They saw that working for kids toward their life beyond high school was not just a slogan but a way of doing business.
When Friendship came in, they built on the strengths they saw in the school, including the principal’s team, behavior support program, and special education compliance. All staff were re-interviewed for their jobs, and some selected out, but the principal stayed as did 50% of staff. Friendship’s hiring process focuses both on skill and will—staff must be committed to the principles and vision of the school.
The results remain to be seen—both Friendship and the Principal admitted that this is a long process that requires commitment; they are not counting on miracles. But if the results of Friendship’s previous efforts are any indication, I’m optimistic—within one year, they took a grades 6-12 school from a “poorly run, dangerous” place to a school exceeding the averages and holding a wait list for students. And ELA scores at a high school doubled and math scores quadrupled over three years.
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