Rochester school reform program gains national recognition

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Fifteen years ago, the University of Rochester developed First Things First, a school reform program hoping to improve education in school districts across the country. Now the program is finally getting results.

The Kansas City School District and Houston's Lee High School, both consisting predominantly of low-income, minority students, have dramatically improved their national test scores by using the program.

The First Things First program breaks larger schools into smaller ones, creating a close-knit atmosphere, and assigning fewer students to a teacher. Teachers act not only as an instructor in the classroom, but also as a bridge between the parents and the students.

The university is now receiving $6 million from the U.S. Education Department, according to Senator Charles Schumer's office, to research why the program is experiencing such a dramatic success.

The program has not yet been implemented in western or central New York, but it has seen a great increase in demand.