Gildo Rey is a turnaround school. Ten years ago, only 35% of the school’s students could pass the math WASL and 50% hit the state’s reading benchmarks. But as new schedules, rigorous, standards-based curricula, and a flexible teaching and learning model steadily replaced old ideas and approaches, Gildo Rey students surfaced with a series of amazing performances during the 2009-2010 school year. On the annual state assessments, 96.7% of the school’s third grade students passed the MSP for math, along with 84.2% of fourth-graders and 73.7% of Gildo Rey’s fifth-graders. Reading scores soared: 81.7% in third grade, 71.1% in fourth grade, and 84.2% of fifth-graders passed the state test. And they keep rising.
At the core of the turnaround was a dramatic shift in attitude among the teaching staff led by Principal Robin Logan. “Once we committed to the idea that every student will meet standard,” says Logan “the rest was smart mechanics.” Indeed. The smart, resourceful and complex mechanics of the right learning model, effective teaching strategies, and strong curricula paced perfectly for teaching, learning and assessment. The easiest part of this breathtaking turnaround, says Logan, was the decision making. “Staff had only to ask — What is best for the student? — to figure out what to do.”
Nobody Gets to Give Up
At the outset, obstacles were daunting including curricula that didn’t meet the learning needs of the kids at Gildo Rey. According to Logan, it was a soul-searching, incremental process that demanded tremendous patience and highly creative problem-solving. “We had to figure out student-by-student, classroom-by-classroom, teacher-by-teacher what works, what would optimize every minute we have that student under our roof — no excuses allowed.”
Along the axis of Gildo Rey’s turnaround are standards-based curricula that get kids to solve meaningful problems and a new learning environment built around flexible groups. Once teachers embraced this adaptable teaching and learning model, Logan’s strong school management practices delivered the critical structure and meticulous scheduling that put Gildo Rey on a path of continuous improvement.
Nobody gets to give up, opt out or fail in the new system. Teachers team because collaboration is not optional. Most strikingly, all the educators at Gildo Rey are responsible for all of the kids who show up. “All of our kids are all of our kids,” says Logan. Each teacher feels accountable for every student on the campus, and they all hold to the basics — teach to standard, teach to mastery and teach with intensity.
One of only two schools handed the National Title I, Part A Distinguished Schools Award in 2010, Gildo Rey staff stepped up happily to the recognition for closing the achievement gap among low-income and ELL students in mathematics.