I have taught at my current school for eight years. When I first began, we hovered in the mid-60% range for free and reduced lunch. Four years ago we were closer to 90% for free and reduced lunch. Currently we are at 100%of our student population receiving free and reduced lunch. We have gone from our test scores being mildly concerning to becoming a School In Need of Assistance, and now for the past two years a Persistently Low Achieving School.
A lot of what we are doing is great and we have a lot to be proud of. But I am always interested in reading books about other schools who are in a similar situation and what they are doing to help raise student achievement. Some of these books may be a bit dry, but my favorite type are those that share the lives of students, teachers and classrooms.
Raising the Curve by Ron Berler is a look inside a Connecticut school very similar to the one where I teach. Berler spent a year in this school as a volunteer in exchange for being able to chronicle his experience. He spends time getting to know individual students and teachers and can write about them and their families with authority because he has taken the time to get to know these people.
Raising the Curve is not a "how-to" on fixing education, but it did present some good ideas and different thoughts about my current teaching situation. It is also not a book meant to show that our education system is broken. I felt that the glimpse Berler provides readers was spot-on and quite realistic with what I also see at school.
Raising the Curve could easily be read and enjoyed by those not in the field of education - and provides an accurate portrayal of the urban education system today.