West Side Story

Posted on August 05, 2005
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There's an interesting phenomenon taking place at a west Phoenix elementary school.

It's called the Pride Program, and it's giving sixth-graders challenging courses in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

School administrators are implementing the back-to-basics program to lure students to Cartwright Elementary, which has lost more than 1,200 students to area charter and private schools. Martha Garcia, president of the school's governing board, says the school is "offering so much more now than before that we can attract some of those students we lost."

The phenomenon of competition from alternative schools forcing traditional schools to focus on providing a high quality education is not isolated to west Phoenix. It's also happening in other areas of the nation that are giving parents school choice.

And it's getting results. Harvard researcher Carolyn Hoxby has established that student test scores in public schools facing competition have risen, often by up to eight or more national percentile points in just one year.

That's a powerful trend that could turn Cartwright Elementary students into real success stories.

Key Links:
- Arizona Republic: "School aims to lure back students by stressing 3 R's"
-Hoxby: "Rising Tide Lifts All Boats"
-Study: Comparison of Traditional Public Schools and Charter Schools on Retention, School Switching, and Achievement Growth

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