January 23

(This is the eighth in a series of posts about schools named as winners in the 2015-2016 Schools of Opportunity project. You can find the first post here and the second here. the third here and the fourth here, the fifth one here, the sixth here, and the seventh here. There are links to all at the bottom of this post.)

If you have paid attention to the school reform debate in recent years, you would be forgiven for thinking that public schools across the board are failing students and that schools that are struggling can only improve if they fire all of their staff, become a charter school or let the state take them over. It’s just not so.

This is clear in a project called the Schools of Opportunity, launched a few years ago by educators who sought to highlight public high schools that actively seek to close opportunity gaps through 11 research-proven practices and not standardized test scores (which are more a measure of socioeconomic status than anything else).

The project assesses how well schools provide health and psychological support for students, judicious and fair discipline policies, high-quality teacher mentoring programs, outreach to the community, effective student and faculty support systems, and broad and enriched curriculum. Schools submit applications explaining why they believe their school should be recognized.

How one school created a ‘safe, comfortable place’ for students and teachers


To help kids succeed, this rural school gets help from unusual sources. Dentists, for example.

Almost all students here are refugees — and they speak 16 uncommon languages. How this school makes it work.


Why this high school works: ‘We are in a perpetual state of improvement.’