CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Step inside a child's classroom at Westwood Elementary in this working class neighborhood of Cincinnati and you'll no longer find educators "teaching to the test." No Child Left Behind has left the building. So have 80% of the old teachers and administrators.
Amy Johnson, who's studied at Harvard, is among the new corps of teachers here. Powered by Diet Pepsi, she never stands still. Her voice rises over the high-pitched, scattered voices of eight and nine-year-olds learning third grade math. She and principal Christopher Grant are allowing FOX19 exclusive behind-the-scenes access as teaching coach Rachel Tapp guides the school into a new style of learning called Common Core.
Kids here are learning there is often more than one way to solve a problem. Creative thinking is encouraged. Genuine effort by students is commended even if they ultimately get an answer wrong. Ms. Johnson's ultimate lesson is whatever your background, whatever your life is like at home, you can do this --- you are smart enough to solve these problems.
At one point, Ms. Tapp taps Ms. Johnson on the shoulder as they stand around a cluster of kids working as a group on a problem. She's helping too much. Ms. Tapp wants her to resist a teacher's innate desire to rescue confused children. This, too, is part of the plan. Kids shouldn't get too dependent on adults for the answers, especially when they're perfectly capable of coming up with the answers on their own.
Cincinnati Public Schools is paying for Ms. Tapp and other teaching coaches in the district with funding from Pres. Obama's Race to the Top program, designed to reward innovative schools with a pot of money. However, a new study says in some parts of Ohio, Race to the Top has failed.