The Secrets of School Success

By Katie Ash — February 04, 2008 1 min read
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Here’s a story about a school that’s doing a lot of things right. Samuel Powel School in Philadelphia has met No Child Left Behind’s federal benchmarks for the past four years, and in a district where less than half of students can read on grade level by the end of third grade, 96 percent of Samuel Powel School’s third graders read on grade level, says the article.

So what’s its secret? The classes are small, it has a low rate of teacher and student turnover, and the parents are actively involved. The article also details an engaging reading lesson by one of the third grade teachers who doesn’t just read a book to his students, but asks them questions about what they thought certain words might mean, what might happen next in the story, and how they felt about it. As a result, the students are interested in the lesson and excited to read on their own.

The article says this school’s model would be difficult to replicate, and that’s probably true, but I’m sure this didn’t all happen overnight, nor was it simply chance that this school was able to put together such an effective model. I’m sure certain strategies were put into place to encourage such high levels of parental involvement and teacher satisfaction. And the lesson plans, which seem to be working wonders, could be implemented almost anywhere.

What do you think? What aspects of this school’s model might work for other schools or districts? Which might be harder to replicate? And how might those obstacles be overcome?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.