Real Progress

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.

This article was originally published in U.S. News & World Report.