(This excerpt from the full article "" has been adapted for publication on Shaped.)
Students getting into fistfights. A mass exodus of teachers. Kids as old as 16 still in seventh grade—and even sixth. These were the challenges facing Marcus Miller at Brownsville Middle School when he arrived as its new principal in 2017. Even worse, the school, part of Florida’s Miami-Dade County Public Schools—the fourth largest school district in the nation—had a tough deadline imposed upon it. The state gave Brownsville two years to show improvement. “After those two years, if it didn’t make the grade, the state could have taken it over,” Miller explains.
Brownsville had been struggling in terms of student performance for a while. On a scale of A to F, its ratings were consistently below the state’s proficient level of C. By 2018, it was going on four consecutive D’s. As per state requirement, if a school receives four consecutive D’s, it has to work with an external partner to change its trajectory and show growth.