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Raise your standard high

Here is a crystal clear account of the ingredients that the authors believe are needed to create great schools, not just from those that many have been merely good but from those that were underperforming or worse. Anybody who wants to know how outstanding heads have made the difference will not want to put it down.

School leaders, governors, parents and policymakers will find it both readable and enlightening. It draws on numerous case studies of successful schools, as well as showing how previously failing schools have been turned around. Looking at such areas as leadership, staffing, target-setting, discipline and order, curriculum innovation and individual learning, the book offers a blueprint to head teachers and others trying to develop excellent schools. Read more Read less. Students of elementary age have access to lap top computers for individual work, and teachers have Smart Boards and Smart Responders for learning through group engagement.

Out of district students are accepted, but students must apply and pay tuition. An aftercare program is provided on regular school days. Students can receive academic help at that time or just relax with friends or play games. There is a charge for the after school program, but parents only have to pay for days their children stay after school and utilize the program. Frostburg, Maryland. Frost Elementary had the fourth highest test average combining all state assessment scores in math, reading, and science, for grades three through five.

Frost serves students in grades K through 5. Students at Frost Elementary enjoy more than just academic classes and the accolades of those who rate schools. The Parent Teacher Organization partners with Frost to provide students with enrichment activities including pumpkin decorating and a "trunk or treat" event complete with a D. For Veterans Day, local veterans came to the school, read a book to classes and shared some of their experiences with the students. The choir, comprised of 3rd through 5th grade students, performed a concert in their honor. Looking to the community, students at Frost celebrated the Kids-Helping-Kids campaign during the week of October 27 through October 31 to raise awareness about others in need and to collect canned goods to benefit the Frostburg Food Pantry.

Norwich, Vermont. Frequently schools get caught up in the need for high scores on math and reading and give less attention to other subjects which may be tested, but that are not used to determine a school's adequate yearly progress. This is not true at Marion Cross School where fourth and fifth graders did very well on the science and writing tests, respectively, narrowly outperforming other top schools in the state.

Students study the normal academic courses, but also take lessons in French, health, environmental education, technology, P.

Students have several innovative art projects to complete throughout the year. Many of these projects are featured on a special art website, displaying a wide array of creativity and talent. From insect drawings from first graders to group projects in fifth grade where each group is assigned a national park to depict in their drawings, art is integrated into other subjects in the curriculum, especially science.

Through the LEEEP Learning about the Environment through Experiential Education Projects Program, students complete outdoor projects to teach them about, and give them an appreciation for, the natural world through environmental inquiry. Merion, Pennsylvania. Merion Elementary School has a history of excellence. There are 23 classroom teachers and additional teachers for special education, P.

The school also employs two literacy specialists and all students second grade and over take Spanish lessons every week with one to two language teachers. There are also after school athletics for interested students. Although the school first opened its doors in , the school has undergone several changes. Major renovations took place in so that the school was updated and modernized.


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In the summers there are camps for young writers and readers. During the school year, the school district provides a subscription to DreamBox, which allows students to develop skills in STEM subjects both at school and at home. Parents are encouraged to have their children use the program at home and parents are given tips and ideas on how to work with their children in math to make it engaging and fun.

Students at Merion have helped raise over four thousand pounds of food for Philabundance, a charity providing food to the needy. Quenemo, Kansas. The elementary school serves students in grades K through 5. Some teachers work in both schools such as the music teacher who recently acquired five acoustic guitars for use in music classes, giving students exposure to new and different types of music in both the upper and lower schools. Fourth grade science students received a perfect score on the Kansas State Assessment of Science.

All other scores were in the high 90s. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School as well as an additional award as an exemplary school for closing the gap in achievement. Every week, each grade elects a student of the week. Parents of students given this honor are then invited to come to the school and have lunch their children to celebrate this honor. Charlotte, North Carolina. Because of their almost-perfect achievement on state-administered standardized tests, Hawk Ridge has been named an Honor School of Excellence from the state of North Carolina.

Students are given the opportunity to participate in activities such as the Movie Making Club, the Fishing Club, Reader's Theater, the Instrumentation Club, the Math Olympiad, Sports Broadcasting, as well as many other activities that are parent-sponsored. Nearly fifty percent of the teachers have master's degrees and almost fifty percent are National Board-certified.

Weekly newsletters from the principal also include parent tips. Parents are a vital part of Hawk Ridge. Their efforts not only make extracurricular activities possible, but they also volunteer for many other activities such as Night of the Arts, the Science Fair, and the annual Multicultural Celebration. Hawk Ridge is not satisfied with an ordinary curriculum. To enhance learning, the curriculum is being buoyed by the Seven Habits of Happy Kids. These are listed on the technology tools website along with several links to helpful websites and projects created by students.

Also, for each grade there is a list of links that are tailored to the students of that grade to help them in a variety of skills and subjects. Fairbanks, Alaska. Located on Eielson Air Force Base, the majority of students are military dependents, but students from Moose Creek also attend. There are approximately students in grades 3 through 6. The Crawford library has an online search engine by keyword, title, author, subject, or series. The library also provides online links for homework help and links to the Accelerated Reader Program and the ThinkCentral website where students can access coursework in social studies, world languages, reading and language arts, math, science, and health.

Students have lessons in music and one teacher is dedicated to an extended learning program. There is a special education program and intervention specialists for academics and behavior. Centennial, Colorado. Serving grades K through 5, Homestead Elementary was honored in by both the federal government with a Blue Ribbon Award as an Exemplary High Performing School and by the state of Colorado as a school of excellence. The school operates on a trimester basis.

Students at the school who are gifted or academically advanced and qualify may apply to a magnet school in the district which is an International Baccalaureate school for grades K through 8. In addition to academic classes students have classes in technology, art, music, and P. Homestead students also have access to a state of the art library which students can explore through an interactive library website. Students can participate in student council which meets in the library on Monday mornings from to Interested members of the community may participate in decision-making and budgetary concerns through the School Action Committee, which meets in a public forum quarterly.

Greenwich, Connecticut. An International Baccalaureate School, the International School at Dundee uses an application process to admit its approximately students from grades K through 5, but applying students are chosen by lottery. Students are tested by the state in grades 3 through 5 in reading, math and writing. Fifth grade students are tested in science as well. When all of Dundee's test scores are averaged together, Dundee has the highest average of all ten scores in the state.

The goal of IB schools is to turn students into reflective thinkers and communicators who develop into principled and caring life-long learners.


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  8. The curriculum from the school district is still maintained but enriched through the IB program. Students learn to research so that they master the skills necessary to be a successful student and learner. Part of this research takes place in a media center where students can make use of technology and check out books. Through the technology of the media center, students explore different countries every month. Additionally, students are given typing goals every year so that they progressively become better typists with fewer mistakes. Once a month, students attend a musical performance after lunch, after which they have a group discussion with the performers.

    Performers come from around the globe and perform a variety of musical types as soloists and groups. Paradise Valley, Arizona. Cherokee Elementary School has the second highest accountability score of all traditional public schools in Arizona. CES offers a gifted program, English Immersion Studies, art, special education, health classes, computer labs, music, P. Clubs include student council, math, and running, among others. After school programs include gymnastics, tennis, yoga, Krea8tive Kids, Young Rembrandts, and several other interesting activities.

    In fourth grade, students may start participating in choir, band, or the strings program. The Scottsdale Unified School District provides enrichment activities to make learning fun so that children will want to learn. Different classes are offered throughout the year, which allows students to pursue interests outside of the school.

    There is also a Parent University where parents are provided with skills to help their children better succeed in academic achievement. The student council helps in school-wide recycling and assists in productions and fund raisers held throughout the district. Marine on Saint Croix, Minnesota. Students at Marine Elementary participate in a program called STEAM, which combines engineering, math, technology, science, and art to create projects and problem-solve through the Lego Robotics program and Engineering is Elementary program.

    Additionally, the school has a wooded area covering one and a half acres that allows students to engage in learning activities in the environment. Special events allow students to experience life outside their world with guest speakers at a general assembly like representatives of the Science Museum and the Minnesota Raptor Center. Students at Marine Elementary outperformed students from the state with third and fifth graders scoring a perfect on the state math assessment. Non-resident students are accepted and an after school program operates year round.


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    Students in grades K-4 go to Adventure Club and students in grades 5 and 6 go to Spin where they work on projects, receive homework help, play games, and participate in outdoor activities. Students can start band or orchestra beginning in the fifth grade. Choir and general music are provided for all students.

    Falls Church, Virginia. The Responsive Classroom approach is used at Haycock, which promotes academic, social, and emotional skills. As part of this practice, students help create classroom rules that will result in a productive learning environment. Students are also allowed to choose their assignments from a teacher-created list. Materials are presented to students in such a way as to promote individualism, responsibility, and creativity, while also teaching students to work together cooperatively with collaborative problem-solving. The school conducts academic and extracurricular competitions in math, science, band, art, choir, strings, drama, and social studies.

    The curriculum is augmented by field trips, mentor programs, visits by published authors, an outdoor learning program, a computer lab, and a science lab. Additionally students have a student news show and a student yearbook. Students at all age levels participate in community service projects. Haycock Elementary was recognized by the Department of Education in as an exemplary high performing school. Haycock had the second highest average of all scores on state-administered assessments in schools that contained grades three through five.

    North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Serving grades K through 5, Stony Lane Elementary is a Blue Ribbon Award Winning School with an higher average score on all state tests administered to grades 3 through 5 than any other public school in Rhode Island. The school's newsletter was recently modified in an innovative way: fifth graders gave a tour of the school and review of what had been happening in the fall.

    Karate, yoga, and scrapbooking were three before-school activities that were featured in the video newsletter along with a quick tour through some lessons and activities taking place in the school. This was a great opportunity for students to experience journalism and broadcasting on a small scale, and helps to make students shareholders in the success and promotion of their school. Wireless internet was recently added to the school. In addition to five desktop computers in every classroom, a portable cart of Ipads and another of laptops is available for classroom use.

    Students have access to cameras as well. A large nature trail traverses the rear property line and gardens hug one side of the building where students can experience horticulture first hand. An academic tutor specializing in literacy works with students in grades one through five. An incentive-based reading program encourages students to read. The school sponsors a scholarship for seniors who attended Stony Lane at least two years and who have been accepted to a college.

    There are currently students enrolled at Stony Lane, in 18 classes.

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    New classrooms, a gym, art room, and music room were added to the school in Manvel, North Dakota. Manvel Elementary serves grades K through 8 and was one of the top five performing schools in the state on the state-administered assessment tests covering reading, math, and language arts for grades three through five, and a science test for fourth graders.

    It is Manvel's philosophy that all children should succeed in school and extra care is given to students in third and fourth grade science through an enrichment program with extra activities in science and math. Boys can participate on a basketball team upon entering the fifth grade. In addition to regular academic classes, students have classes in music, beginner's band, advanced band, choir, technology education, and physical education.

    In November the third and fourth grades performed the musical Snow Way Out. In , Manvel was named a Blue Ribbon School for being an exemplary high-performing school. Members of the Senate, N. Bozeman, Montana. In the school year, Longfellow had the second highest overall scores in math and reading for grades three through five, and in was named a Blue Ribbon School as an exemplary high performing school. Longfellow students have a tradition of caring and community service exemplified in things like collecting non-perishable food for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, and attending the Women's Auxiliary dinner, raffle, and auction for veterans, through which proceeds go to provide Christmas gifts and food for military families in need.

    In addition to academic classes, students have classes in music, technology, and art. A Wetlands Festival is held every year for students to explore and learn about the characteristics of wetlands. Parent volunteers and local experts lead students on tours of the wetlands and help students participate in a variety of science experiments and activities. In the spring, students participate in an Artworks Festival where students can display their artworks from that school year.

    Dinner, music, dancing, and fun activities take place at the festival where an auction raises funds for the visual and performing arts. The ArtWorks Festival supports drama, dance, poetry, drumming, and many other school activity programs. Bellevue, Washington.

    The Bellevue School District provides students services to all school levels. In elementary school, there are dual language programs, gifted programs, a Spanish Immersion Program, after-school programs, special education, and English as a second language programs. The Spiritridge library has an online component so that students can view the card catalog from any computer, access databases and encyclopedias, as well as other great programs.

    There are also online math and reading programs so that students can practice their skills at home and so parents will have a resource for helping their children. The curriculum is also available on line. Fathers and other male relatives are encouraged to support their children through a volunteer program called Watch D. Dads of Great Students to promote education and safety.

    Recognizing that most parents work full time, Watch D. The program is not compulsory, however, so men are not pressured to participate, but invited to act as male role models. Spiritridge, a K-5 school has had tremendous academic success with its nearly students. Students can display their art on an online art gallery. Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Serving grades K through 5, Lincoln has a little over students. All students take general music classes, but there is also a band, choir, and an orchestra which is open to students in grades four and five.

    Before school, students meet for large group lessons and then during the day they are in smaller groups for more intimate lessons. In addition to a physical library, students have access to online resources ,and the library posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using student social media to reach all students and encourage reading. The library website offers suggestions for what to read, a card catalog, online resources, and technology tutorials so that students can get the most out of the website.

    The curriculum includes technology and literacy benchmarks so that students start in kindergarten with teacher-demonstrated research skills and end in fifth grade with students conducting independent research using a predetermined list of resources such as almanacs, periodicals, and thesauruses. Every year the fifth grade takes an environmental field trip and spends the night camping. As part of a cultural arts programs, students have assemblies to attend cultural programs and student performances.

    Students also perform community service projects. Sugarcreek, Ohio. Serving students in K through 6, Ragersville Elementary experiences great success in state accountability testing.

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    Ragersville utilizes a broader grading scale than many schools. This provides greater reward for harder working students while increasing the chances of passing for struggling students. Creative special events occupy Ragersville's calendar. Students brought art supplies to fill Santa's pants for the donation drive. The school has a band comprised of fifth and sixth graders who perform with the high school for special concerts. Physical education classes present varied and innovative programs, sports, and games to keep students engaged and physically active.

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    Students take classes in art, music, and technology as well. In the past 15 years, research studies have identified the characteristics of effective schools. Those characteristics that seem to show up in all the findings include high expectations for students, a safe and orderly school climate, frequent assessment of student progress, parental involvement, collaboration among faculty and staff members, and focused and sustained professional development. Attending to these basics can go a long way toward creating effective schools that meet the needs of all students.

    Three factors stand out from the research that guide implementation of this component of effective schools. It is important to create an environment where all stakeholders feel secure. A safe and orderly school has a positive impact on student achievement. To create and maintain an effective school, education leaders should guide teachers in the use of multiple forms of assessment. Teachers should use data to inform their instructional decisions.

    And, they should have opportunities to work in teams to develop pre-assessments, formative assessments, and summative assessments. Pre-assessments are one of the most important elements of differentiated instruction. Pre-assessments can inform teachers not only about what concepts the students have already mastered, but can also bring to light misconceptions students may have about the concepts. This knowledge allows teachers to differentiate instruction based on student readiness. Formative assessments are given during instruction to determine how well students are meeting the learning goals of the lesson.

    Teachers use formative assessment data to determine if they need to adjust their instruction. Summative assessments assess how much of the content the students mastered at a certain point in time; summative assessment data is usually an important part of the grading process. Summative assessment can help evaluate instructional effectiveness and determine if re-teaching is necessary. Schools cannot sit back and wait for parents to come to them. Parents should be invited onto campus and involved in decision making when appropriate. Parents who feel welcome are more likely to become involved.

    Communication between school and family should be consistent and it should involve school administrators as well as teachers. Teacher collaboration creates a culture of high student expectations, promotes sharing of best practices, and cultivates a sense of belonging. The first step in developing a culture of collaboration is to build a core team to begin the process. The core team should include teachers and administrators who have a collective commitment to improving student achievement and are well-respected on the campus.

    This group will be responsible for developing the implementation plan for the campus. The next step is to build the collaborative teams. Team members must be compatible and willing to work together. All team members must understand that they will be expected to fully participate in the collaborative team. Once the teams are built, they establish individual member roles and team norms.

    Because it has a direct, positive impact on student achievement, principals should promote collaborative opportunities for teachers by building a master schedule that gives teachers time during the school day to meet together. In a perfect world collaborative teams would meet every day.

    However, if that is not possible, the teams should be provided opportunities to meet at least weekly. To positively affect student achievement, professional development should be an ongoing learning experience.