In 2013, Fresno Unified’s highest-poverty elementary schools performed in the bottom 30 percent of all schools in California. Students’ average proficiency in math and ELA lagged behind more affluent schools in the district and the state—but teachers didn’t have enough time or support to catch their students up.
District leaders leveraged an infusion of state funding to add intervention time for students and professional learning time for teachers. The district worked hard to align everyone—teachers, principals, and the central office—on how more time for learning could translate into improved instruction.
Five years later, the same group of elementary schools has improved performance among low-income students at nearly double the rate of other elementary schools in the district! One-third of these schools now meet or exceed the district’s average performance in math—and together, their progress far outpaces average progress statewide.
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School districts across the country struggle with systemic challenges, such as increasingly rigorous academic standards, more varied student needs, and persistent achievement gaps. The Districts at Work series of case studies shares specific examples from districts that are taking a new approach to these types of systemic challenges—and seeing exciting results.
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