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5 Sensational School Success Stories

by Lindsay Hutton

Sometimes, it's the school's turn to do some homework. A school's commitment and individual approach to education is critical when it comes to a child's academic success. Read on to learn about five different low-performing schools that turned their struggling districts around to become country-wide role models for the rest of the nation to follow.

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Booker T. Washington High School


Memphis, TN

Booker T. Washington High School, located in one of nation's poorest zip codes, beat out 450 other schools that entered the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, a competition that highlights their extraordinary progress to prepare students for life after high school.

The community has the 14th highest crime rate in the nation, 70 percent of their homes are headed by single parents, and 20 percent of the school's students lost their homes last year when the local housing projects were demolished. But in the past three years, Booker T. Washington has adopted several academic strategies to improve the school, including separate freshman academies for boys and girls, and more AP class offerings.

The effect these changes had is astounding. The school's graduation rate soared from 55 to 82 percent. Between 2005-2010, the percentage of students going on to college skyrocketed from 4 to 70 percent. The school's math scores are 20 percent higher than the state's average, and it also has the highest attendance record and lowest number of violent incidents among Memphis' public high schools.

What did the school earn for winning this competition? The school will receive a commencement speech from President Obama, of course.

Next: Greenlee Elementary School

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