Oscar F. Smith Middle School, Chesapeake, V.A.
Tucked into the historic South Norfolk section of the City of Chesapeake, Va., Oscar Smith is home to a diverse student body of nearly 950 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. With a high unemployment rate and pervasive poverty in the community, 84 percent of the students are considered economically disadvantaged and 25 percent are enrolled in special education. Seven years ago, the staff at Smith, under the leadership of a new principal, initiated a systematic process to address student needs. Targeting poor academic performance through a data-driven differentiated instruction model, notable progress has been made. The school community has reviewed and refined the numerous changes and supports, collaboratively institutionalizing the processes and procedures that made it possible.