Bruce Randolph Free to Enforce High Expectations, End Social Promotion

Denver’s Bruce Randolph School, which serves a challenging, high-poverty student population, is really working to change the culture from the ground up. The Rocky Mountain News‘ Nancy Mitchell reports that Bruce Randolph – led by Principal Kristin Waters – is putting a stop to social promotion. The school has signed contracts with the parents to ensure high expectations are kept and that students can avail themselves of needed interventions to help them make it to the next grade:

Bruce Randolph’s part of the bargain was to closely monitor student achievement and to step in as soon as teachers saw a child struggling.

So they launched tutoring Mondays and Wednesdays after school in the fall. They began Saturday school in October. They launched a week of intense remediation, which came to be known as “F-land,” in December.

At the year’s midpoint, letters went home notifying parents if their children were facing retention. Letters went home again three-quarters of the way through the school year. In April, staff started weekly monitoring for failing grades.

“All year long, we’ve talked to the parents,” Waters said. “And every time, parents have been supportive.”

In May, teachers began calling homes to tell them the bad news. In some cases, the message was, “Your child is being retained.” In others, it was, “Your child will be retained unless they go to summer school.”

As of Thursday, the retention tally was relatively small. Two of 90 sixth-graders are being held back, as are 13 of 150 seventh-graders and 16 of 170 eighth-graders.

Bruce Randolph School has been in the news a lot the past six months, struggling with some success to free itself from the red tape of district bureaucracy and union work rules. Bruce Randolph has served as inspiration for the recent Innovation Schools Act.

Kristin Waters and the hard-working teachers who support her have sought freedom so they can go above and beyond to meet the needs of the kids they serve. Today’s story provides some evidence that they are working to get things done.

Kudos to Bruce Randolph. I know it would make me work harder to keep out of summer school.