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College Hill Fundamental Academy

In 2009, College Hill Fundamental Academy moved up from its state designation of “effective” to “excellent.” Here’s why: The school has done a terrific job of meeting students’ needs, engaging parents, and fostering an atmosphere where teachers work together to boost student achievement. As its name implies, College Hill Fundamental Academy emphasizes the fundamentals by promoting key character values and core subject areas (literacy, mathematics, science and social studies). The school caters to students who thrive in a highly structured academic environment. At College Hill, parents are expected to participate in their children’s education and the school community. Prior to admission, principal Barbara Gordon insists on interviewing parents of all incoming students to lay out her expectations. Gordon’s hands-on approach is one of College Hill’s greatest assets. She has worked at the school for 15 years and has spent 13 of those years as principal. Her strategy for success includes isolating her campus—to some degree—from the uncertainty of trendy, new and unproven programs. Her clarity of expectations is not reserved for parents, but extends to teachers as well.

Faculty collaboration is strong at the school, as teachers are required to coordinate curriculum across grades and apply a laserlike focus to troubleshoot poor student performance. Also, all teachers provide targeted help for students with additional needs.

At College Hill, the vast majority of students come from economically disadvantaged households. In 2009, 77 percent of the school’s students received free and reduced-price lunch. That figure is significantly higher than the 68 percent of students districtwide who received free and reduced-price lunch that year. Despite such poverty, College Hill has demonstrated that a mix of strong leadership, parental engagement, clear expectations for students and teachers, as well as superb instruction, can increase student achievement.


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