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During and after his term as interim Central Falls superintendent in 2006-2007, Bill Holland sought answers to why some Central Falls High School students had school success while over half of their classmates failed to graduate. Much can be learned from how these students survived in a chronically low-achieving school located in the poorest community in the state. Holland provides behind-the-scenes details on the issues of poverty, ineffective teaching, and cultural differences while also advising students, parents, and teachers on ways to gain greater educational success. Before the book was completed, a federal and state mandate unexpectedly resulted in the superintendent having to adopt a turn-around model and fire the entire high school faculty and staff-an action that set off a firestorm between the school and state leadership and the American Federation of Teachers. The conflict made national headlines and was mentioned by President Obama as a prime example of a 'last resort' approach in reforming failing inner-city schools.

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