See the original article, published on WSBT 22.
The strategy for helping Navarre Middle School may be in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The school has received failing grades from the state department of education for six straight years.
Empower Schools Incorporated, a Boston-based non-profit, will try to change that with help from Education Resource Strategies.
Why could Springfield be the road map for South Bend?
Empower Schools set up its first Empowerment Zone in Springfield four years ago. Since then, the 11 schools that are part of it have seen significant changes.
Education Resource Strategies chose Empower Schools as its partner for a specific reason.
According to a spokesperson for ERS, they share core values.
“We feel like ERS and Empower really share sort of a core set of beliefs of how schools are really the unit of change in creating transformation within the district. And so it felt like that would be a really good partnership,” said Karen Silverman, Education Resource Strategies.
Navarre Middle School and its four feeder schools have struggled. But the CEO of Empowerment Schools explains how similar schools in Springfield were able to make changes that lead to big improvements.
“Among the nine middle schools, I mentioned 11 total, nine middle. Among them, three of them have had some of the biggest gains sort of any of the schools in turnaround in the state have had. One of them went from the ninth percentile to the 55th percentile in the state,” said Chris Gabrieli, Empower Schools Inc. CEO.
Gabrieli says schools in the Empowerment Zone went from averaging six and a half hours of school per day to eight hours per day.
It made a big difference and of course, teachers are paid more for the additional work.
Changes like these have Todd Cummings very excited to visit Springfield May 2.
“To see it in action. To see how the turnaround zone works with the district. To see the kind of outcomes the students are getting,” said Todd Cummings, South Bend Schools deputy superintendent.
Gabrieli told WSBT 22 if the state approves South Bend's Transformation Zone, it will become Empower School's 10th school district.
He says a key to success is each school district's ability to work independently and establish unique curriculums.