Turning a Low-Performing School Around

Adapted from Edutopia report of Concourse Village Elementary School


Concourse Village Elementary School, a K-5 elementary school in the Bronx, NY is an example of a successful school transformation. Led by Principal Alexa Sorden, the school ranked better than 95.8% of all elementary schools in New York City in 2017. Looking at those exemplar statistics, one might assume the school has been doing well all along. Yet, in 2013, when Alexa Sorden took over the role of school principal of Concourse Village Elementary school, the majority of its students came from a phased-out school.

Most students struggled with low literacy and inadequate Mathematical skills at the time, which results in the school being considered a state failure.

In a matter of few years, Principal Sorden turned the school around by asking teachers to build a schoolwide culture of consistency. The video depicts the school transformation and different strategies Principal Sorden employed to increase students' achievement and engage students in learning effectively.


1. Collaborative Reading

Students at every grade level do 15 minutes of shared reading every day. They begin learning how to annotate in pre-kindergarten. By second grade, they are ready to learn more complex annotation marks.


2. 3-read Protocol

For complicated Math’s problems, teachers read (without numbers), students read, then they read together (both students and teachers). This helps students solidify their understanding of the Maths problems as they tend to be confused when large numbers appear on these problems.


3. Participation Card

Show whether students agree or disagree with the point of another classmate. This helps engage them in the process of learning as they have their chances to contribute to the lesson.



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