Harper-Archer Elementary School, part of Atlanta Public Schools, opened in August 2019. The school was created in order to consolidate two academically troubled schools on Atlanta’s west side. Atlanta Public Schools gave the Atlanta-Journal Constitution unprecedented access to the inner workings of its efforts to turn around this school. If the principal, staff and students at Harper-Archer are successful with their bold plans, the school will serve as a template for other urban schools struggling to meet basic standards.

Special Report: Inside Atlanta Public Schools’ fight for the future

Harper-Archer Elementary School opened in August with the goal of helping students become high achievers. 

It is among about two dozen “turnaround” schools within Atlanta Public Schools. The district has spent years and millions of dollars to try to help these low-performing schools improve, even as critics call for more accountability and quicker interventions. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wanted to know: Just how does a turnaround school try to boost student learning?

To answer that question, we knew we had to be in the classrooms and hallways of a school working to find solutions. 

Harper-Archer Elementary, the turnaround school the district selected when the AJC proposed this project, opened this year to serve west Atlanta neighborhoods that are among the poorest in Georgia. 

School officials allowed our reporter and photographers a close-up view of the people and the everyday goings-on in the life of that school community. Over six months, an AJC reporter and photographers spent many days observing, interviewing and recording the efforts and the motivations of the dozens of people who are trying to ensure that what’s in store in the lives of the children there can be brighter than their beginning.

Beginning Thursday, the stories, videos and photographs will be published online here. Readers can see the full project in Sunday’s print edition.

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