What schools are winners of the 2013 Dispelling the Myth Award?

Posted by Ronald | October 28, 2013  |  No Comment

In addition to learning styles such as visual, kinesthetic and auditory, students come to school with different cultural backgrounds. Research shows that culture is a major factor in the development of learning styles of children. Too often, schools ignore the different cultural backgrounds of students and, subsequently, employ a one-size-fits-all method to teaching. This can contribute to the failure of students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds such as African-Americans on state assessment because there is a disconnect between what is taught at school and what is experienced in students’ home environments. With The Education Trust’s mission to promote high academic achievement for all students at all levels (pre-K – 20) particularly from low-income families, the critical questions to be asked are: What schools are winners of the 2013 Dispelling the Myth Award? What are the unique characteristics of these schools?

During its 11th annual conference, The Education Trust announced the 2013 Dispelling the Myth Award winners. The award recognizes schools with large populations of low-income students and students of color who are performing similarly to more affluent students throughout the state. By recognizing each of these outstanding schools with the Dispelling the Myth Award, The Education Trust seeks to dismiss the idea that there is little schools can do to help students overcome the barriers of poverty and discrimination.

According to president Kati Haycock of The Education Trust, “These ordinary educators — with extraordinary grit and the extraordinary results to prove it — show what is possible in all schools. The Dispelling the Myth Award recipients never lose sight of where we’re headed and never forget for a second why all of our kids need the same opportunities for high achievement. They continue to inspire our work every day.”

As a model for other schools, the following provides an excerpt of the four honorees: Arcadia Elementary School, Olympia Fields, Ill; Chadwick Elementary School, Baltimore, Md.; Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Elementary School, Miami, Fl. and Pass Christian High School, Pass Christian, Miss.

Arcadia Elementary School

Community is a constant theme at Arcadia Elementary School, a kindergarten through third-grade school that serves more than 500 students, most of whom are African-American and 65 percent of whom come from low-income families. Classroom rosters are built carefully to ensure a mixture of students who can work well together; leadership teams are constructed thoughtfully to capitalize on the strengths of teachers; and an extensive volunteer program welcomes parents and neighbors to be members of the school community. One indication that the school’s attention to community is paying off: More than 1,400 parents, students, siblings and community members attended this year’s back-to-school night. “You can’t be successful if you don’t build teams,” says Principal Pat Ransford. Under her leadership, Arcadia has seen success on state assessments — about 70 percent of third-grade students exceed math standards, compared with 43 percent of students in the state.

Chadwick Elementary School

Students at Chadwick Elementary — a mix of African-American children and new immigrants from African, Southeast Asian, Central American and Arabian countries, 79 percent of whom are low-income — are held to a high standard, according to Principal Bonnie Hess. Chadwick Elementary relies on a homegrown reading program to ensure that all their students master the English language, build a robust vocabulary, and can decode and comprehend written English. The proof is in the results. At Chadwick, not only do nearly all students meet state standards in reading and math, but roughly 95 percent of all students (including 93 percent of African-American students and more than 95 percent of low-income students), exceed standards in fifth-grade reading. These scores starkly contrast with the rest of the state, where less than 40 percent of African-American and low-income students exceed standards.

Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Elementary School

Most of the students attending Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Elementary School are the children of recent immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean — 87 percent of Finlay’s students are low-income and more than half are still learning English. But, these challenges only strengthen the resolve of the faculty, many of whom are also the children of immigrants. As Principal Cecilia Sanchez says, “We see ourselves in them.” With instruction in both English and Spanish, teachers aim to ensure that all students are literate in both languages. To this end, they continually evaluate their own work to know with certainty what is working and for which of their students. As a result, higher percentages of Finlay students meet state reading and math standards than in the rest of the state. For example, 73 percent of Finlay’s fifth-graders met or exceeded state reading standards compared with 60 percent of all students statewide.

Pass Christian High School

In a state where only 74 percent of students graduate from high school, 84 percent of Pass Christian High School’s students do — not just white or middle-class students, but also their African-American (31 percent of enrollment) and low-income students (56 percent). And the students don’t just squeak over the graduation line either. Eighty-six percent of the class of 2012 took the ACT exam in 2011, and the average score was 21.4, well above the state average. Their steady improvement trajectory was not even deterred by Hurricane Katrina. As Principal Meredith Bang said, “We were not willing to lose a year of education in the lives of our students.” They set up trailers and kept focused on their mission, “Committed to Excellence.” Pass Christian is focused on preparing all its students for college and other postsecondary opportunities. As one student said, “College was never in my sights — until I moved here.”

We sincerely congratulate all the honorees of the 2013 Dispelling the Myth Award for their dedication and commitment to improving academic achievement for all students regardless of their socioeconomic status.

 Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of four books, “Education Questions to be Answered,”  “Current Issues and Answers in Education,”  “How to Eradicate Hazing and “Professional Career Paths.” He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper.  Holmes is a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at rwh@theholmeseducationpost.com.

 

 

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