The following is an excerpt from a recent article in The Cincinnati Enquirer highlighting Ohio schools that are closing the achievement gap:
"Reading Central Community Elementary is so academically successful that the state is paying researchers to study how they do it. Many kindergartners come to school not knowing their alphabet or how to write their names. More than half the students qualify for free or low-price lunches. Many come from homes without computers or phones.
"Yet the school has achieved a statewide Excellent rating. This school and 12 others in Greater Cincinnati are among 102 rated by the Ohio Department of Education as Schools of Promise. They're known for their successes in closing the achievement gap among students from various socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. And now, these high-performing schools are becoming models for other educators statewide.
"It's clear to us that achievement is possible, regardless of where you live, the color of your skin or the size of your parents' bank account, said Mitch Chester, assistant state schools superintendent. Chester was among 100 educators statewide who visited the seven Schools of Promise in Hamilton County last month to learn how they closed the achievement gap.
"What's their biggest secret? A no-excuses, can-do attitude. If the students aren't learning, it's not their fault. It's the teaching that needs to be changed. These schools also use data to monitor student progress throughout the year, so educators don't learn at year's end that some students have fallen behind. Instruction is adjusted and tailored to help students catch up.
"Connie Garafalo, principal at Reading Central Community Elementary, recalled decades ago when teachers went only by their gut instincts that a student wasn't learning. Unfortunately, that's kind of why we're in the situation that we are in now with accountability. Show me on paper. We've got teachers now making graphs, graphing students, progress monitoring. It's awesome to see. Everybody's doing this, she told a group of visiting educators."
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