Superintendent Raymond launched the Priority Schools program in the spring of 2010 to accelerate the rate of student learning in low-performing, high-poverty schools. Six schools were initially selected for participation: Oak Ridge, Father Keith B. Kenny and Leataata Floyd (formerly Jedediah Smith) elementary schools; Fern Bacon and Will C. Wood middle schools; and Hiram Johnson High School. Rosa Parks Middle School was added to the program in June 2011.
At six of the Priority Schools, 100 percent of the students meet the federal poverty threshold (at Hiram Johnson, 77 percent of students qualify for a free or reduced price lunch). Priority School teachers have been trained to use research-tested strategies for improving student learning and meet frequently to review data, collaborate on curriculum and lesson plans and develop assessments. Each Priority School has an extra administrator and a full-time curriculum coordinator/teacher trainer on staff. Because of their specialized training, Priority School teachers are protected from seniority based layoffs.