Everyone loves an underdog story, especially when it comes to education. Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, and McFarland, USA were all movies inspired by real life stories of educators who went above and beyond to change the lives of their students.
Since the No Child Left Behind Act, schools have kept better track of their students’ progress and are thus being held more accountable. Each state uses a different method of grading its schools. Some schools use a grade point, some use the traditional A–F system, and some districts and states have systems that are so complex, it takes practice to understand them.
No matter what the final product is, schools are rated using similar criteria. All schools are subject to state testing, which measures the proficiency rates of the students in each subject. Data from these tests are broken down and analyzed by race, demographic, socioeconomic status, and past performance levels.
Each year, schools are rewarded for their success if they maintain standards at or above state average. Schools needing improvement are given specific areas to focus on, and the next year’s grades reflect the percentage of goals that were met. Graduation rates, number of AP classes, attendance, and yearly improvement are all taken into consideration.
This list is unusual, as it doesn’t highlight the “best” schools in the country (although some of them are). This list is for the schools that have been dealt a rough hand, and are fighting back.
Some challenges may be financial, others may be location. Some schools have over a 20% special education demographic, yet are maintaining proficiencies on par with other schools.
Whatever the challenge is, these schools are meeting them head-on, making continual strides, and teaching their students that success isn’t just about academics; it is about also about character, integrity, and giving back to the community.
To the schools listed, we thank you for your dedication and commitment to improving the education for all your students regardless of the challenges that came your way.
Learn more about the schools meeting their challenges: “50 Inspiring Schools Meeting the Challenge.”