Hurray for William Wells Brown Elementary

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It’s worth celebrating when teamwork produces winning results, which is just what the team at William Wells Brown Elementary School did earlier this week with a pep rally, compliments of the United Way of the Bluegrass and music by the Lafayette High School band.

Fortunately, there’s no secret to the strategy behind the gains in state test scores at a school where more than 90 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced price meals.

As Valarie Honeycutt-Spears reported, teachers steeped themselves in what students need to know and do under the state’s academic standards and used individual student data to drive instruction and change the way they they teach.

The reward: A 19-point jump when scores were released last month and designation as a “high progress” school.

The year before, many in Lexington were stunned and embarrassed when the shiny new school just a few blocks from the heart of downtown was ranked as Kentucky’s lowest-performing elementary school. A wave of volunteers stepped up to offer their help, an additional 80 volunteers through the United Way alone. Lexington Police Sgt. Rahsaan Berry and other officers have been helping out with the academic team.

Bill Farmer, president and CEO of the United Way of the Bluegrass, hopes to see the same kind of community support and commitment for other schools and students struggling to overcome daily challenges that more affluent residents of Lexington can barely imagine.

Although education is one of Lexington’s biggest industries, too many of our young people, especially minorities, fall through cracks in the education system and fall short of their potential.

It will take even more hard work to sustain the momentum at William Wells Brown. But the improvement in just one year shows what good teaching and team work can do and serves as an inspiration to others.