After 12 years as principal of Clintondale High School, Greg Green had a bad feeling: He knew his school was failing its students.
Especially the at-risk ones. Only 63% of the kids at Clintondale went on to college, and 35% didn't even make it though high school. It was rated as one of the worst schools in Michigan.
He and his staff had tried everything they could with the school's limited resources. Nothing worked.
But he had an out-of-the-box idea.
Green is also a coach. To get the most out of the time he had with his players, he'd been making them videos to watch at home so they could see what they were doing wrong and how they could improve.
At practice, he found that after they'd watched the videos, they'd already processed what was going on and made the necessary corrections.
What if academic classes operated the same way, with kids prepping in advance by watching videos online at home or in the school library, and then doing their work in school, during the day, with teachers on hand to assist?
Could that actually work?
Here's what a high school day is like these days.
That's a 10-hour day — every day.
Oh yeah, there's also extracurricular activities like sports, music lessons, and so on.
Kids have to process and internalize what they've been taught during the day at night, after they've already put in what would be a full workday for adults. And they have to work out everything by themselves.
So Clintondale decided to try flipping a classroom.
They started with one teacher teaching a flipped class to struggling kids and the same teacher teaching the same material in a traditional way to average students. The idea was to see if the students having problems would be helped at all by the switch.
The kids who were selected for this program actually outperformed the other class!
By 2011, Clintondale had flipped all of its classes, the first U.S. school to do so.
Clintondale's failure rate dropped from 35% to 10%. College enrollment went up from 63% to 80% in two years!
Maybe the best thing, though, is how the kids feel.
"Once I came over here, it was completely different. I absolutely loved that I could get the teacher's help in the classroom. I honestly went from a D, F — those were my basic grades — to almost all A's right now."
— Gisselle De La Cruz Diaz
Clintondale's success has caught the attention of schools all over the country, with 48% of teachers flipping a classroom by 2012, and 78% by 2014.
Sometimes, to get exceptional results, you've just gotta take exceptional action.