Seventh grader Uzziel Rodas isn't surprised that so many of his classmates at Frazer K-8 School in Syracuse are struggling.
"It's not the teachers or the principals. It's just the kids. Most of the kids just go there to play around and talk to their friends and slack off," Rodas said.
Uzziel's school is one of seven in Syracuse splitting $31.5 million in federal School Improvement Grants (SIG). The government identified the schools as "chronically underperforming" with "at-risk student populations". The Syracuse School District refers to the local grant recipients as "innovation zones".