'Raising the Curve': 8 stories from a struggling elementary school

Writer Ron Berler spent a year in an elementary school trying to turn itself around after failing test scores. His book "Raising the Curve" describes what he saw.

7. Leader of the class

Melanie Stetson Freeman

Morey saw that two students in his class, Chandler and Carlos, were popular and that the other children would often follow their example. The teacher asked Chandler to set a good example but wasn't sure if his message had gotten through. One afternoon, however, the class arrived back from lunch before Morey did. The students knew they were supposed to read silently to themselves, but no one did. "Chandler, who sat near the door, heard Mr. Morey coming down the hall," Berler wrote. "'Let's get out our nonfiction books,' he called to the class. The children faced Chandler. They saw he was serious. Immediately, everyone – even Carlos – settled down. By the time Mr. Morey entered the room, all the students were reading. Chandler couldn't believe it – the whole class had listened... Before the week was out, Carlos spoke to him privately about changing, too. Chandler was certain that he'd turned a corner.... Then a few days later, briefly, he lost it again. This time, without being asked, he apologized to Mr. Morey. 'I guess I'm going to have to keep working on controlling myself, because people say in middle school the teacher's not going to deal with that. I hope by the end of the year I'll be a new person,' Chandler said."

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