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Failing school making a comeback

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Updated: 7/27/2013 4:06 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News is getting a look inside a formerly failing school in Duval County that has made a comeback this year, according to the Florida Department of Education's grades released Friday.

Eleven schools in Duval County are failing to meet state standards, since Florida changed the way tests are scored.

Last year, Northwestern Middle School was one of them, but turned that "F" to a "D."

"We accept and embrace the 'D' for the simple fact it shows growth for us," said April Shackleford, also known as Ms. Shack.

She is Duval County's District Teacher of the Year.

[Special coverage: Back to School]

Action News has learned that her way of keeping students engaged in reading, enough to excel academically, is what helped her achieve that kind of success.

"Finding articles of interest is how we ramp up their reading, and then getting them to actually generate questions around that and go into an open discussion is how I boost the reading level," she said.

That's exactly what she's done, according to the school's chart, which shows reading gains at almost 75 percent of the state's standards.

It's a move in the right direction, but Ms. Shack tells Action News there are more factors that weigh into the overall excellence of a school.

"Teachers, of course, come and go, so that plays a big role in academics," said Ms. Shack.

For schools with high turnover like Northwestern, consistency and stability will be key to maintaining growth going into next year.

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