Sixth grader Briana Pennamon "works it" for the camera between classes at Key Middle School. Houston Independent School District, one of the largest districts in the country, is deliberately trying to learn lessons from its charter schools and apply them to regular public schools. —Michael Stravato for Education Week
Sixth graders Joshua Thomas, left, and David Baker work on an experiment in Angela Glover's class. New to the school last school year, Ms. Glover said she tries to enrich the curriculum with hands-on activities. —Michael Stravato for Education Week
Typical of charter and early-college schools, Key Middle School has put up college banners in the hallways. Such displays are one of the ways the school tries to instill high expectations in students. —Michael Stravato for Education Week
Seventh graders Jacoby Rideau, from left, Devon Thomas, and Cedrick Jefferson attend Joshua Dawson's class. Mr. Dawson is a new teacher at Key Middle School. Key replaced relatively few teachers in the last two years. Overall, the district’s Apollo 20 schools replaced more than half their teaching staff as part of the turnaround effort. —Michael Stravato for Education Week
In the 2010-11 school year, four high schools and five middle schools in the 203,000-student Houston Independent School District entered Apollo 20, a program intended to employ the same classroom strategies and produce the same strong academic results, district leaders hoped, that exist in some of the nation’s top-performing charter schools. Key Middle School has so far shown the most significant academic gains of all the Apollo schools.