Four Iowa schools honored for breaking education barriers
Four Iowa schools were honored today by the State Board of Education, as well as Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds, for their work to raise achievement among groups of students who traditionally face challenges in the classroom.
The Breaking Barriers to Teaching and Learning Award was created by the State Board of Education. Each year, the award recognizes successful efforts to eliminate achievement gaps.
This year’s award-winners were recognized for having the highest proficiency rates statewide in math and reading among a specific subgroup of students, such as students whose first language is not English and students from low-income backgrounds. State assessment results from the last three years were examined to confirm a positive trend for each school.
This year's winners are:
- Washington High School, Cedar Rapids Community School District
Washington High School is honored for its work with African American students. A full 74 percent of the African American students there are proficient in math and reading, compared to a statewide average of 54 percent.
- Riverdale Heights Elementary School, Pleasant Valley Community School District
Riverdale Heights Elementary is recognized for the second year in a row for its work with Latino students. The school’s Latino students are, on average, 93 percent proficient in reading and math. That compares to a statewide average of 66 percent.
- Denison Elementary School, Denison Community School District
Denison Elementary School is honored for its work with students whose first language is not English, or English Language Learners. Among the elementary school’s ELL students, 77 percent were proficient in reading and math, compared to 50 percent statewide.
- West Union Elementary School, North Fayette Valley Community School District
West Union Elementary School is recognized for its work with students who come from low-income families. Fifty-two percent of the school’s student population qualifies for free and reduced-price lunches. Of those children, 93 percent are proficient in reading and math. The statewide average is 68 percent.
Interviews with school principals revealed a common thread between the honored schools: the use of evidence-based practices, a staff-wide commitment, high expectations and substantial teacher collaboration.
Reducing the achievement gap is one of the State Board of Education’s top priorities.
“We commend these schools for their work to demonstrate that students can succeed regardless of their backgrounds,” said State Board of Education President Charlie Edwards. “We have work to do as a state to close achievement gaps and improve for the sake of all students, and Iowa has the right roadmap in place to get us there. It includes a comprehensive teacher leadership system, new standards and aligned assessments, an early literacy initiative, and a coordinated effort to connect students with high-demand, rewarding careers.”
Note: Photos of the winners will be available for download this afternoon from the Iowa Department of Education.