Education reform group launches pilot program in 3 city schools

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Public Schools has brought in a nationally recognized organization to help reform three of its schools. Armstrong High School and two middle schools, Boushall and Thompson, will be part of a three year pilot program.

EdisonLearning has worked in some of the most challenged urban school districts around the country: Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia.  Now they've come to Richmond to help with three schools that have had some trouble making the grade in statewide tests.

Mary Dunnock is with EdisonLearning. She says, "Over next three years they will see edisonlearning staff in the buildings on a daily basis visiting classrooms, making regular walk-throughs."

The pilot program is aimed at raising test scores and also keeping students interested in school. Graduation rate continues to be a challenge. Edison has a proven record of helping urban schools try to turn that around," said Dionne Ward, the Turnaround Manager for Richmond City Schools.

At Armstrong, the graduation rate is less than 60 percent, Nowhere near the rate required by the federal government for Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP. EdisonLearning says its program starts with the teachers. "Really looking at where teachers are and helping them to improve in their instructional strategies. We help teachers with just understanding and becoming a master of their craft," said Dunnock.

The group also says it focuses on the whole child, not just what happens in the classroom. Ward says, "Looking at our their progression socially, emotionally, educationally and in all aspects psychologically and every realm of that."

EdisonLearning will hold information sessions with teachers and parents this week. The first meeting is Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Boushall Middle. Edison will be at Armstrong High at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and wraps up its meetings with parents at 5 p.m. on Thursday at Thompson Middle School.

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