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Turnaround Leads To Success At Chicago School

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Piccolo Elementary School. (Credit CBS)

Piccolo Elementary School. (Credit CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – In addition to the more than 50 schools targeted for closing, six more are on the turnaround list. What does that mean? New leadership, new teachers, and as Dorothy Tucker reports, a new attitude that can equal success.

A classroom full of all boys, or all girls.

A classroom teacher, plus a teacher’s aide. And order in the halls. This is the new Piccolo. This is what a turnaround school looks like.

“It’s more productive. It’s better,” said student Kiyah Laschlui

The proof is in the numbers. Since last year, attendance has climbed from 93 percent to 95 percent. Discipline problems that included calls to police dropped from 20 last year to just two this year.

“If students are not able to sit in their seat and be engaged then learning will not take place,” said Principal Lori Campbell

There’s a plenty of learning at the improved Piccolo. The number of students meeting and exceeding national test scores has jumped from 41 percent to 78 percent. Administrators attribute the success to teachers who are allowed to concentrate on their specialties: Math, science, and reading and engage students.

“Our process is to make sure students are able to think critically and they’re able to justify their answers so the answer is not that it is red but why is it red?” said Campbell.

Students are also rewarded for success: Trips, luncheons, tee-shirts.

“It lets you know that you’re doing good and it makes you feel better and it makes you want to do better,” said student Lajada Douglas

An organization called the Academy for Urban School Leadership is contracted by CPS to work with the turnaround schools. It has successfully improved the academic standards at 25 schools. This spring the group will take over six more schools.

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