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Solving Urban Public School Failure: Keith Look at TEDxUofL 2012

As a lifelong educationist, Keith Look has been leading the turnaround of Shawnee High School in Louisville which was once rated last in the state of Kentucky. Keith Look, a native of Louisville, KY, entered public education in Baltimore City Public Schools via Teach for America. As a middle grades social studies teacher, Keith took on site-based leadership roles to help rethink one of the lowest performing middle schools in the state. Then, after a doctorate in education policy and practice from UPenn, Keith became assistant principal, interim principal, and acting principal in the same year at West Philadelphia High School (WPHS). In that year Keith rescued WPHS from an impending special education lawsuit and re-organized the high school into academies while having his budget cut by $1 million.Following WPHS, Keith returned home to Louisville to become principal of Meyzeek Middle School, a school serving the richest and poorest zip codes in the city and located in one of the more challenged areas of town. While at Meyzeek, Keith demonstrated double digit performance gains from the diverse sub-groups and restored ties with the community that led to sustained change and international attention.Returning to his educational roots, Keith is now the principal of the Academy @ Shawnee, a high school rated last in the state and posting the district's neediest student population. The school is one year into its official turnaround process and garnering attention from around the country as an in-depth and open case study of the trials and tribulations, as chronicled in Education Week. With half of the staff replaced and a major overhaul of instruction and assessment underway, Keith works to build a new school culture of academic success in a developmentally-appropriate setting. Early data shows tangible progress is being made, as the school made all of its NCLB goals for 2011 by reducing the number of students in each subgroup by at least 10% who performed below proficient.
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