LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Like so many others, the aroma of cafeteria food greets you as you enter the doors. Signs in bold, primary colors point you in the direction of the counselor's office, and then there's a pitter-patter of little feet in a single-file line.
Hugh Goodwin Elementary in El Dorado has 450 students, and based on research, should be failing. It had all the earmarks of schools that struggle. Low test scores, high absenteeism, and low income.
In fact, more than 60 percent of the kids receive free or reduced lunches.
The school in the deep south of Arkansas, however, is beating odds. Or, crushing odds. The hasn't always been the case though.
Back in 2005, Hugh Goodwin students tested a 23 percent proficiency in literacy, and a 37 percent in math. So, what changed?
According to principal Connie Reed, it's because the El Dorado elementary school is now an A+ school.
Reed says, ""With the A-plus program, we focus on integrating some type of art into each lesson or whatever skill is being taught."
Even parents are beginning to take note of the changes in their children at home. Cynthia Meadows, a first-grader named Caroline's mother, says "She wakes up excited to go to school."
In 2006, proficiency in literacy doubled at Hugh Goodwin Elementary, and it jumped 28 percent in math. It increased over the next four years, and now stands at 82 and 88 percent. From the time, A+ started to now, literacy is up 59 percent. Math is up 51 percent.