Phase One of the Benwood Initiative, launched in January of 2001, and captured national attention for its success in improving student achievement in eight urban elementary schools.
The initiative focused on reforming education in eight schools in five years. Those eight schools posted dramatic improvement in many different measures. For example, these schools made greater gains than 90% of all schools in Tennessee from 2003-2006. The percentage of third graders scoring proficient or advanced in reading rose from 53% in 2003 to 73% in 2006. The success of the initiative garnered considerable national media attention from varied sources, including Education Week, Parade Magazine, PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Reader’s Digest.
In 2007, the Benwood Foundation expanded the initiative to another eight schools, focusing on improving literacy and math scores across Hamilton County. The key goal was to dramatically increase the percentage of students who score at the highest level of Tennessee’s state assessment exams and to ensure that every single student scores at the “proficient” level.
The goal of the second phase is to impact all Hamilton County elementary schools by implementing strategies and methods learned from the Benwood schools across the county.
Listen to the American Radio Works documentary Testing Teachers that features the Benwood Initiative discussing teacher quality and how it influences student achievement.
American Radio Works reporter/producer Emily Hanford, discusses the Benwood Initiative and why it was selected for the program.
The Testing Teachers program, the history of the Benwood Initiative, its impact on teachers and administrators and how it formed the basis of the district's Scope of Work for Race to the Top was discussed during a roundtable discussion with:
- Corinne Allen, Executive Director of the Benwood Foundation
- Susan Swanson, Director, Benwood Initiative, HCDE
- Frances Haman-Prewitt, Public Education Foundation
- Emily Baker, Prinicpal, East Lake Elementary School
- Penny King, First Grade Teacher, Woodmore Elementary
- Joe Curtis, Lead Teacher, Hardy Elementary
- Dr. Jim Scales, Superintendent
- Linda Mosley, Board Member
Read about and listen to the local roundtable discussion that aired on WUTC on Sunday, November 21, 2010.