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Five Iowa schools honored for breaking education barriers

Date: 
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Left to Right:</strong> Tara Estep (Helen Hansen Elementary, Cedar Falls Community School District), Erica Rausch (Oak Ridge Middle School, Linn-Mar Community School District), Leilany Carrazco (Denison Elementary, Denison Community School District), Tracy Morrison (Maquoketa Valley Middle School, Maquoketa Valley Community School District), Jennifer Gertson (Riverdale Heights Elementary, Pleasant Valley Community School District)
Left to Right: Tara Estep (Helen Hansen Elementary, Cedar Falls Community School District), Erica Rausch (Oak Ridge Middle School, Linn-Mar Community School District), Leilany Carrazco (Denison Elementary, Denison Community School District), Tracy Morrison (Maquoketa Valley Middle School, Maquoketa Valley Community School District), Jennifer Gertson (Riverdale Heights Elementary, Pleasant Valley Community School District)
View more photos from the awards ceremony.

Five Iowa schools were honored today by the State Board of Education 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:

  • Denison Elementary, Denison Community School District
    For the second year in a row, Denison Elementary School was honored for its work with students whose first language is not English, also known as English Language Learners (ELL). Among the school’s ELL students, 79 percent are proficient in reading and math, compared to a statewide average of 50 percent.
  • Helen Hansen Elementary, Cedar Falls Community School District
    Helen Hansen Elementary was honored for its work with students who have special needs and are on an Individualized Education Programs (IEP). Among Hansen’s students on IEPs, 79 percent are proficient in reading and math, compared to a statewide average of 43 percent.
  • Maquoketa Valley Middle School, Maquoketa Valley Community School District
    Maquoketa Valley Middle School was honored for its work with students from low-income backgrounds. The school, in which more than a third of its students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, has 88 percent of low-income students proficient in reading and math, compared to a statewide average of 68 percent.
  • Oak Ridge Middle School, Linn-Mar Community School District
    Oak Ridge Middle School was honored for its work with Hispanic students. Among Hispanic students at Oak Ridge, 98 percent are proficient in reading and math, compared to the statewide average of 66 percent.
  • Riverdale Heights Elementary, Pleasant Valley Community School District
    Riverdale Heights Elementary was honored for the third time in as many years at the Breaking Barriers ceremony for its work with African American students. Seventy-three percent of African American students were proficient in reading and math at Riverdale Heights, compared to a statewide average of 54 percent. 

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 Vice President Michael Knedler. “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, an early literacy initiative, and a coordinated effort to connect students with high-demand, rewarding careers.”  

Note: Photos of the winners are available for download  from the Iowa Department of Education's Flickr.

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Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on September 25, 2017 at 11:05pm.