Disproving the “Failing” Label

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by Amy Buffenbarger

Educators and staff at many priority schools have seen their school ranked, labeled and listed on a recurring basis that’s rarely positive. Kit Carson Elementary School is no stranger to that trend.

The school is located in West Las Vegas, Nevada, the state with the highest home foreclosure rate in the country. With an unemployment rate around 14 percent, Las Vegas is among the worst cities to find a job. The Clark County School District, which includes Kit Carson, is the fifth largest in the nation, and among the poorest-performing. The school is on D Street, in an aging neighborhood that has been ranked one of America’s Top 10 most dangerous. Eighty-three percent of the students at Kit Carson qualify for free or reduced lunch.

But these challenges haven’t prevented educators and staff at the school from standing strong in the community and leading their students to higher levels of success.

The school received its federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) in 2009 and adopted the turnaround model with the support of the Clark County Education Association (CCEA). One year after implementing the various requirements and programs associated with SIG, Kit Carson met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and demonstrated improvement in every subject area:

  • 41% more students met or exceeded writing standards
  • 27% more students met or exceeded science standards
  • 19% more students met or exceeded math standards
  • 14% more students met or exceeded reading standards

“The stereotypes are there,” said Kit Carson principal Cynthia Marlowe. “But once people come on campus, they get a feel for the students, the parents, and the teachers, then they have a different story.”

Click here to get the full story at NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign site.

Reader Comments

  1. How excellent! Paying attention to the positive is a good choice, because the basic psychological principle is that anything we pay attention to will increase.

    In addition to changing the focus in HOW we look at education, we must also change to focus WHAT we look in education. You know how we don’t see things as they are, but how we are? And sometimes we have hard time understanding, because the new information doesn’t seem to fit in?

    For too long time we have been paying attention to teaching, wishing it magically make a change in learning. However, teaching and learning are two separate processes that occasionally happen in the same physical space (i.e. classroom). It is a real paradigm change in the education what we need: focusing on facilitating students’ learning instead of focusing on teaching (and no, it is not just semantics). This is one of the things that has made education so excellent in Finland.

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