The student population across the country is becoming increasingly diverse. The elementary school featured in this video serves students from a wide range of backgrounds, and plans accordingly to educate its diverse student population.
There are real success stories in Michigan school buildings that are considered by some to have traditional barriers to academic achievement, the Michigan Department of Education reports.
Over 100 schools in Michigan are finding ways to overcome the identifiable risk factors to low student achievement, such as low economic status, race and ethnicity, or proficiency with the English language.
"These are schools that are doing remarkable things to help their students achieve, despite the odds being stacked against them," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. The Michigan Department of Education conducted two separate studies to identify schools that are "beating the odds." One study identified 63 schools that are performing above their predicted levels, based on risk factors. The second study identified 72 schools that perform better than a comparison group of schools with similar demographics.
Of the 135 schools identified, 20 schools including 18 elementary, one middle, and one high school, beat the odds in light of both studies' criteria and were interviewed and profiled for this release. Six additional schools met both criteria, however were not profiled because they are gifted and talented magnet schools. The schools represent districts from across the spectrum of the state, from large urban districts to suburban and remote rural schools.
Michigan ASCD has invited these schools to share their stories with you. In this first installment in the series, read how Deerfield Elementary School in the Novi Community School District has worked to create a school with soul.
Post submitted by SmartBrief education editor Amy Dominello
Little things mean a lot when it comes to designing school spaces that can enhance student learning.
There are lots of little touches that can be done at little cost to improve learning environments, said Beth Hebert, the now-retired principal of Crow Island School in Winnetka, Ill. But it's also about making sure that classroom spaces are designed for little people, she said.
Hebert, who served as principal of the elementary school for 21 years, led an ASCD Annual Conference session on how school and classroom design can energize, support, and inspire learning. Architects frequently visited her school—a National Historic Landmark built in 1940—because of its unique design, which incorporated work rooms and access to outdoor spaces in the classrooms.
The interest in the school piqued her interest in the connections between the use of space and how well-designed spaces can improve learning for children. She stressed that doing so doesn't always cost money or require major renovations, citing the calming effect of softer lighting as one example.
Before embarking on a makeover, Hebert recommends understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your current space and getting multiple perspectives, including those of students and parents.
She also advocates that educators think about classroom design from the student's perspective: painting doors different colors so young students who can't read yet know where to go; making sure seats are the right size for the youngest students; and having wide hallways so students aren't bumping into one another.
Hebert also urged educators to look at the wide variety of resources available to make a case for change, including DesignShare, the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, and the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.