George Lucas Educational Foundation

Why We Chose Mesquite Elementary School

A checklist of essential qualities for schools and school districts profiled in Edutopia's Schools That Work.
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Our Schools That Work series explores what goes on at some of the most innovative, successful schools around the country. These range from schools with long-standing records of high performance to turnaround schools now on the road to substantially higher achievement. We visit each school to take a close-up look at its best practices and the specific challenges it faces, then we assemble a package of stories and hands-on tools that you can use to replicate some of the school's successes.

Even before we choose a school, we give it a hard look to make sure it delivers the kind of creative, effective, replicable practices that Edutopia can stand behind. Here's a quick look at the standards and the strengths we saw in Mesquite Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona.

  Minimal Moderate Strong
  Cohesive school culture with high expectations     x
  Focus on 21st-century skills and themes   x  
  Use of project learning and integrated studies   x  
  Availability and meaningful use of technology     x
  High student achievement     x
  High student engagement     x
  High or improving scores on standard measures     x
  Use of authentic assessment with real-world application   x  
  Emphasis on inquiry and student-directed,
  rather than only teacher-directed, learning
  Collaborative planning among teachers     x
  Personalized instruction and regular use of assessment
  to shape teaching and learning
  Culture of trust fostered between staff and students     x
  Teachers given input and leadership in shaping school
  Relevant, ongoing professional development tailored to
  individual teacher's needs
  Meaningful involvement of parents and community members     x
  Track record of sustained success for at least two years     x
  Eagerness among staff to share best practices and help
  other schools replicate their success

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