Return to Headlines

Standout Cleveland schools offer hope for wider success: editorial

One of Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon's toughest reform goals is to turn around five to 10 failing schools a year. Fortunately, the experiences of some outstanding urban schools in Ohio that have managed to produce high test scores and a disciplined student culture despite high levels of poverty offer some lessons.
The main message of two recent reports on great urban schools in Ohio is that successful schools are made by effective teachers and principals, not born.

Quite a few of these great schools are on Gordon's turf, including MC2STEM, John Hay Early College and the Cleveland School of the Arts.

"Needles in a Haystack" from the Thomas Fordham Institute looked at six high-achieving urban schools in Ohio, including John Hay and the Cleveland School of the Arts. "Failure is not an Option," a study sponsored by the Ohio Business Roundtable, the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio State University, focused on nine top urban schools, including MC2STEM and the excellent-rated Citizens Academy charter school, also in Cleveland.

Their findings suggest that strong principals and teachers, high expectations for students and extra efforts on behalf of all students make the critical difference.

The Fordham report looked at two schools that used lotteries for admission, two with open enrollment and two -- John Hay and the Cleveland School of Arts -- that select their student body, but found that selectivity alone couldn't explain success, particularly since more than 60 percent of students in both Cleveland schools were from poor neighborhoods.