High-Poverty, High-Achieving Schools

In their Saturday session, William Parrett and Kathleen Budge focused on “Poverty and Underachievement: How Schools and Districts Lead Students to Success.” Their research shows that schools that are high-poverty and high-achieving have a common factor that stands out: a professional accountability for learning.

Every person in the school has a “relentless responsibility for kids’ learning. They exhibit a courage and willingness to take action and attempt to influence every sphere that touches a child’s life—the classroom, the school, the district. The most successful schools also reach out to families and communities,” they said.

They pose the question—Why don’t we implement what we know works?


  1. As a novice administrator, I find Chenoweth’s article, “Leaving nothing to chance” to provide remarkable evidence that should spawn inquiry-based discussions among school leaders and staff members. Often times, a school or district’s ability to “implement what we know works” is largely dependent upon the culture that exists within the school. Specifically, every member of the faculty and staff must possess a non-negotiable, individual, daily commitment to their students’ success if more high-poverty, high-minority schools are to become high-performing. As Chenoweth quoted a principal in the article, “They understand that if their students do not have a good education, they may face lives of poverty and dependence. They know that school leaders must be guardians of their students’ futures, not of their staff members’ happiness. ‘It’s the job of a principal to make a marginal teacher uncomfortable,’ says one principal. Another says, ‘No one has the right to waste a day in the life of a child’.”
    Developing a school culture over time where teachers believe and demonstrate these ideals through action is tough work, especially when teacher turnover exists. It would be interesting to investigate whether elementary schools or secondary schools are more successful and efficient at achieving and sustaining this culture. Nevertheless, as an African-American, first-year administrator, I recognize the opportunities that education can produce, and this type of culture is what I and our administrative team seeks to achieve. Our students’ futures are at stake.


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