Criteria Used to Identify Dispelling the Myth Schools

Each year from 2003 to 2014 Education Trust recognized with its Dispelling the Myth Award a handful of schools where children of color and children from low-income families are doing exceptionally well.

All DTM schools serve significant numbers of low-income students or students of color, and they have student achievement results that put them near the top of their states — not just in one subject or for one year but across subjects, grades, and years. They have small — sometimes non-existent — achievement gaps.

For the most part, they are regular neighborhood schools taking all children who live in their catchment areas. In a few cases, Ed Trust has honored schools that hold lotteries to select their student bodies. The schools in those cases only require students to submit simple contact information up front. They do not screen students by teacher recommendations or prior academic records.

Sharing Lessons From Those Who Are Getting It Done

These books are providing insight to the education field in understanding how schools need to change in order to help all their students learn to high levels — even those burdened by poverty and discrimination.

It's Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2007), by Ed Trust’s writer-in-residence Karin Chenoweth, profiles some Dispelling the Myth schools along with a few other rapidly improving high-poverty schools. It lays out 25 common characteristics of these schools.

HOW It's Being Done: Urgent Lessons from Unexpected Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2009), by Chenoweth, describes the five common practices Dispelling the Myth schools share.

Getting It Done: Leading Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2011), by Chenoweth and Ed Trust director of research Christina Theokas, examines the role of school leaders in the success of their schools.

Ed Trust’s webinar series, produced with support from The Wallace Foundation, feature DTM educators and are available on-demand.