By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With 54% of students performing below or at grade level, new principal Suzanne Gimenez, was one of 26 administrators charged with turning a school around in one of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s neediest schools.

Fifty percent of the students are economically disadvantaged, 11% English language learners, 10% with disabilities with a mix of ethnic and racial population.

Involved in the District’s Schools Strategic Staffing Initiative, Gimenez was able to bring seven staff members, who received a $10,000 bonus. They were used to reduce class size; no existing teaching staff were removed and all worked together in teams.

Within 3 years of arriving, 93% of students performed at or higher on the state’s math test, 80% reached science benchmarks and reading increased more than 20 percentage points. A chart in the teacher’s room displays all student performance and kids track their own scores as well.

School districts striving for better academic achievement should investigate the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina plan reported by The Center for Public Education.