In the News

Real Progress

Author Carmel Martin highlights evidence showing that School Improvement Grants work in low-performance schools and argues that Congress should continue to fund education programs that are proven to shrink education gaps in the United States.

In 2010, the newly hired principal of Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore described the school as an “education cemetery.” That school year, only a quarter of students graduated. Fewer than half of the students were meeting state standards in English, and less than a third were meeting standards in math. But something remarkable was about to happen at Frederick Douglass.

That same school year, in addition to hiring a new principal, Baltimore City Public Schools replaced more than 50 percent of the school’s staff in a dramatic effort to turn its performance around. With support from a federal School Improvement Grant, the school focused on staff development, increased planning time for teachers and learning time for students, and created a dual-enrollment program with Baltimore City Community College. By 2012, proficiency rates in math and English were up – from 32 to 44 percent and 41 to 53 percent, respectively. By 2014, the graduation rate had more than doubled, reaching almost 60 percent.

The work at Frederick Douglass isn’t finished, but the progress is real.

The above excerpt was originally published in U.S. News & World Report. Click here to view the full article.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Carmel Martin

Distinguished Senior Fellow