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Reinventing Rochester City School District

Posted August 18, 2010 7:19 PM by Dylan Miyake

Rochester City School District is in the process of reinventing itself, and perhaps, reinventing the way that educational leaders across the country think about K12 educational performance. Rochester is on its way to improving its graduation rate, growing it from an abysmal 39% to an acceptable 75%, but Rochester's ambitions do not stop there.

The superintendent of the Rochester City School District, Jean-Claude Brizard, is an example of how education can work to change someone's circumstances dramatically. He and his parents left Haiti when he was six. And despite his poverty, his parents were fully engaged in his education. he's since gone on earn two master's degrees, one in school administration and supervision and one in physics. This personal story is the basis of his dedication to believing that every child can succeed.

On the Broad Foundation website, he is quoted as saying:

"Averaging performance data to demonstrate gains has no place in education. Every child, regardless of race, ethnicity or class, must have the opportunity to achieve in great schools with extraordinary teachers and world-class content. There is no greater challenge facing our educational system today than the achievement gap, and nowhere is it more pronounced than in our urban school districts. We must make every effort to close this gap; we owe this to our children, and we must hold ourselves accountable for their success."

In Rochester, the motto of the district is "Every child is a work of art. Create a masterpiece." This is reflective of the district's goal to educate every child, and not simply look to increase average achievement. But the district's goals are even more aggressive than that. Presented with the fact that many of the graduates of Rochester City Schools do not succeed in college, Brizard and his team are looking at ways to go beyond the basics and ensure that the district is not just graduating students in four years, but that they are graduating students that are prepared for post-secondary life, be it work or college.

Rochester City School District is in the process of developing a scorecard to help with this strategy. The strategy map will help the district communicate the approach to improving student achievement, the measures will show the city the leading indicators of their success, and the initiatives will help demonstrate that they're focused on the key drivers of student success. Stay tuned as we bring you more on this remarkable turnaround story.