Sticking To The Script

Some schools spell out exactly how teachers must teach. And their scores are up

Ringed by the run-down buildings of Chicago's South Side, Harold Washington Elementary is the picture of a frayed inner-city school. Eighty-five percent of the students live below the poverty level. And a security guard keeps students inside--and intruders out--once the morning bell rings. But enter El-Roy Estes' fourth-grade classroom and you'll see a model of order. As students wearing crisp blue-and-white uniforms file in, Estes studies a three-ring binder to find out what's on tap for this morning, Day 111 of the school year. He begins the class with grammar exercises and then discusses a short story. All the while, Estes...

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