Pride and progress

Jay Mathews tells a touching story of struggle and triumph, chronicling a low-income Alexandria (VA) school’s battle to meet NCLB’s adequate yearly progress (AYP) definition. Since it found itself on the “needs improvement” list in 2004, and losing students to other, better-performing schools, Maury Elementary School embraced wide-reaching internal reforms. Mathews highlights those efforts, which range from community involvement (volunteer tutors for additional after-school lessons) to conducting intricate statistical analyses (assessing the school’s writing test scores with a Data Disaggregator). And installation of a dynamite principal. After all the hard work, Maury made AYP for 2004-5. Parent Mary Jo Smet, who has a third-grader enrolled there,, said the school’s recent success was “a confluence of energy and effort” from parents, teachers, and students. The hard work doesn’t stop, though, and Maury must continue its academic gains in order to stay off the “needs improvement” list. But the school’s story offers hope—and quantitative data to back it up—that determination and a little elbow grease can turn the tide.

A Study in Pride, Progress,” by Jay Mathews, Washington Post, February 2, 2006