COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwired - Jun 23, 2014) - Only 11 percent of Ohio's high-poverty high schools earned all As and Bs on the state's 2013 academic report card. But before accepting that result as the inevitable impact of family income, consider three Columbus City Schools' high schools that consistently succeed, says KidsOhio.org.
In a report titled, "Three Columbus City Schools Earn All As and Bs on State Report Card," KidsOhio.org detailed successes achieved at Columbus Alternative High School, Eastmoor Academy and Centennial High School. All have poverty rates ranging from 55 percent to nearly 70 percent, but economically disadvantaged students at these schools are consistently beating the odds on the state's 10th grade math and reading tests. Additionally, in all three schools, students of color are the majority.
KidsOhio.org interviewed principals at all three schools to understand why these schools are achieving high marks. The principals most often cited these factors:
- A clear goal of preparing all students for college
- Long-serving teachers and principals
- Expectations that parents will be engaged in their students' education
- Positive peer pressure among students to achieve academically
- Parental choice to enroll students in these schools
- Strong relationships among students, teachers and principals
"Each of these schools has a history of long-serving principals and teachers," said Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Good. "That is why the district reduced the number of principal transfers this year in order to help more principals build long-term relationships with teachers, parents, students and the community."
In fact, stability among the teaching staff and school principals was mentioned as one of the most important factors. For example, Centennial High School has had the same principal for 13 years, a rarity in urban schools. Teachers told KidsOhio.org that this has made it easier for them to make a long-term commitment.
But the KidsOhio.org examination shows that school success is not based on a "cookie-cutter" approach.
"These three schools are unique in their own way, but each school does an excellent job of preparing students for college and adult responsibilities," said Alesia Gillison, the district's director of high schools and middle schools.
For example, Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS), formed in 1978 as a college preparatory high school, emphasizes academic excellence, internships and the arts, leading to an overall record of excellence. The Washington Post named CAHS the fourth-most challenging high school in Ohio earlier this year.
Eastmoor Academy's principal told KidsOhio.org that positive peer pressure among the school's students has been a game changer for those who attend, recalling a debate he recently witnessed among athletes as to who was the best student.
"Many schools across Ohio face challenges that are similar to those faced by students and educators at these high schools," said KidsOhio.org President Mark Real. "All three demonstrate that poverty can be counterbalanced in schools where principals are strong and consistent, parents are engaged, teachers expect hard work and students work to meet those expectations."
The report and all its findings can be downloaded at KidsOhio.org.
KidsOhio.org was created in 2002 in response to community, education and business leaders who wanted an effective, data-driven, nonpartisan organization focused on improving public education in Ohio. The organization is funded by the private sector and does not accept any government monies or contracts. KidsOhio.org's mission is to improve the education of Ohio's nearly three million children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.