Why Some Schools With Latino Children Beat the Odds... And Others Don't

Reports and Publications
March 2006
Mary Jo Waits, Heather E. Campbell, Rebecca Gau, Ellen Jacobs, Tom Rex, Robert Hess

It’s true that, throughout Arizona and the Southwest, the odds are against high achievement in schools with a mostly Latino, mostly poor student enrollment. And, indeed, most schools with such demographics do have a hard time. But some such schools --beat the odds-- and achieve consistently high results or show steady gains. Why do these schools succeed where others fail? What is the DNA of a successful -beat-the-odds-- school? And can the components of success be replicated elsewhere, in schools which so far have fallen victim to the odds? Using the inspiration --and the methodology-- of business guru, Jim Collins, author of the best-selling book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don’t, we found 12 elementary and middle schools in Arizona – schools whose students are mostly Latino and mostly poor -- that are "beating the odds" on reading and math scores. And, as Collins did with successful companies, we compared them with similar schools -- also with students who are mostly Latino and poor, sometimes even in the same school district -- that are performing poorly.