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President Applauds Cincinnati Community Learning Centers’ Improvement!


During a visit to Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, VA, President Obama shared his plan to repair No Child Left Behind and reform American education. He highlighted the transformation of Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School, one of fifty-five community learning centers in the Cincinnati Public School system. The goals of the Community Learning Centers (CLC) are to support student achievement, revitalize neighborhoods and maximize the community’s return on their financial investments. CLCs act as hubs for community services, providing access for students, families and community to health, safety and social services, as well as recreational, educational and cultural opportunities.

The President applauded Taft’s improvement, "In Cincinnati, Taft High School went from handing out only one diploma for every five students to graduating 95 percent of its seniors, and preparing them for careers in technology."

Taft High School began to decline in the 1990s. At the time, the school district was in the middle of a redistricting plan. Most expected it to shut down Taft, but the community lobbied for it to be restructured into a CLC instead. As a CLC, Taft gained a new technology focus and a strong partnership with Cincinnati Bell. The district decided to turn Taft into a technology-focused school. Smith and a group of his teachers visited the best technology programs in the country and crafted a program for Cincinnati. The school was renamed the Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School. All students take basic technology classes. Juniors and seniors enter the "Senior Institute" where they choose a specific emphasis such as web design or information technology. The restructuring was a huge factor in the turnaround, educators say, because the school began attracting students who wanted high-tech careers. It became a destination school, rather than the default school. Taft remains one of the few technology schools in the country that has open enrollment. To learn more about Taft High school click here.
According to an Ohio state survey, in 2000 Taft High school received a grade of "academic emergency" on the Ohio report card and by 2010 their score had risen to "excellent". The Graduation rate went from 21 % (2000-2001) to 95.2% (2009-2010). In the same survey, seniors proficient in math rose from 25% to more than 95% and senior proficient in reading rose from 42% to more than 95%. Attendance rate rose from 78.2% (2000-2001) to more than 95% (2009-2010). Disciplinary actions dropped from 78.7 in the 2000-2001 school year to7.3 in the 2009-2010 school year.

In closing, the President challenged our nation’s school systems saying, "Our goal as an Administration, my goal as President, has been to build on these successes across America. We know what can work. Two years ago, we started trying to figure out how to incentivize success by starting a competition called Race to the Top. We’re saying to States, prove you’re serious about reform, and we will show you the money." To learn more about the Community Learning Centers Initiative, click here.

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