For many Ohio school districts, it can take years to reach “excellent” status on the state-issued report cards.

One local school made the leap in just 12 months. Administrators and teachers with the Youngstown Community School learned late last week their facility jumped from “academic watch” for year 2008-09 to “excellent” for year 2009-10.

The charter school’s principal, Sr. Mary Dunn, said a number of changes were made after last year’s report card came out. Sr Mary Dunn said the school had a lot of intervention, including tutors, a literacy coach and a math coach.

The school implemented common planning time for the teachers, so that they could ensure that every standard was taught, she added.

“We operate, and it might sound old-fashioned, but it’s tough love,” Sr Mary Dunn said. “There isn’t one child I would trade. We love ’em all, but the expectations are high and must conform to it. Even if parents don’t agree, they have to support it.”

The school first opened 13 years ago and now enrolls 322 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Every student lives in the city of Youngstown and nearly 90 percent are from low-income families.

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