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news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

Amazing Stories from Our Public Schools


Have you checked out the Learning First Alliance’s collection of public school success stories lately?

Since December 2007, we have posted more than 150 stories about what is working in our public schools. Some stories come from our member and partner organizations. Others have been submitted by educators, parents and other community members proud of what is going on in their local public school.

Criteria for inclusion are relatively simple: A story must show that a public school or district (or even state) recognized a challenge, addressed it, and had some results. Often those results come in the form of standardized test scores, reduced dropout rates or increased graduation rates. Other times they recognize positive changes to student behavior, classroom grades, student health, or parental engagement. In the spirit of the “best of” lists that tend to circulate this time of year, here are the top five of these stories from 2011*, as determined by you, our audience (as indicated by our trusty Google Analytics tracking system). Enjoy!

5. Cleveland Program to Close Achievement Gap Shows Proof of Success. A Cleveland Metropolitan School District program provides personal attention and assistance to low-achieving black eighth grade males who are deemed most likely to drop out of school.

4.Alabama’s Graduation Coaches. Thanks in part to an initiative showing the success of school-level “graduation coaches,” Alabama is among the top states in improving its graduation rate.

3. Using Electives to Get Struggling Students More Math. A Michigan district helps struggling high school students catch up – and get ahead – by offering two math classes a day.

2. Flipping the Classroom: Homework in Class, Lessons at Home. After a Michigan high school starts “flipping the classroom,” grades went up and discipline problems went down.

1. Arts Integrated Curriculum Helps Students Overcome Challenges of Poverty. A New Jersey school offers a rich curriculum that helps its largely low-income student population develop individual creative strengths, confidence and problem-solving abilities while exceeding state academic standards.

Want more good news about what’s working in our public schools? Check out success stories housed over at NSBA’s Center for Public Education, AASA Connect, NASSP, and Edutopia.

 If you would like to see a success story about your public school or district on our site, e-mail

*These stories were not necessarily posted in 2011. They were the stories that were most viewed during the calendar year.

About the Author
Anne O’Brien joined the Learning First Alliance in September 2007. Prior to joining the Alliance, she worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Louisiana, helping rebuild the agency after Hurricane Katrina. There, she managed first the school-based mentoring program and then enrollment and matching for the agency. She has also consulted on the development of school-run mentoring programs. Anne brings a practitioner’s lens to her work, having taught high school biology, physical science, and remedial math at East St. John High School in Reserve, LA, and serving as a Teach For America corps member in the Greater New Orleans region.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College and a Master’s degree from George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development. She is also an alumna of the Education Policy Fellowship Program at the Institute for Educational Leadership.

About The Learning First Alliance
The Learning First Alliance is a partnership of 16 leading education associations with more than 10 million members dedicated to improving student learning in America’s public schools. Alliance members include: the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of School Administrators, American Association of School Personnel Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American School Counselor Association, International Society for Technology in Education, Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Development Council), National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, National Middle School Association, National School Public Relations Association, National PTA, National School Boards Association and Phi Delta Kappa International. The Alliance maintains, a website that features what’s working in public schools and districts across the country.

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