Davis One of 5 in Iowa Honored for Breaking Education Barriers

Five Iowa schools honored for breaking education barriers

Five schools from across the state were honored by the State Board of Education today for their work to raise achievement among 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 gaps in achievement among students.

Left to Right: Sally Kittleson (Southeast Elementary School, Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District), Dana Deines (Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls Community School), Justin White (Davis Elementary School, Grinnell-Newburg Community School District), Robert Davis (Hillside Elementary School, West Des Moines Community School District), Jennifer Gertson (Riverdale Heights Elementary School, Pleasant Valley Community School District)
View more photos from the awards ceremony.

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 who do not speak English as their native language and students from low-income backgrounds. State assessment data from five years were examined to confirm a positive trend for each school.

The schools that met this criteria are:

  • Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls Community School District:Recognized for its work with African American students. A full 78 percent of the school’s African American students are proficient in math and reading, compared to a statewide average of only 52 percent.
  • Davis Elementary School, Grinnell-Newburg Community School District: Recognized for its work with students on Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs. The proficiency rate for Davis Elementary students on IEPs is 82 percent in reading and math. That compares to a statewide average of 43 percent.
  • Hillside Elementary School, West Des Moines Community School District: Recognized for its work with English language learners, or ELL. The proficiency rate for Hillside’s ELL students is 70 percent in reading and math. That compares to a statewide average of 49 percent for the same group of students.
  • Riverdale Heights Elementary School, Pleasant Valley Community School District: Honored for its work with Latino students. Ninety-eight percent of Latino students are proficient in reading and math, compared to the statewide average of 62 percent.
  • Southeast Elementary School, Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District: Recognized for its work with students who come from low-income families. With a third of the school’s student population qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches, 98 percent of those children are proficient in reading and math. The statewide average is 65 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 celebrate these schools because they’ve made major strides in helping students overcome challenges and achieve,” said State Board of Education President Charles Edwards. “We look to their leadership as we work to move our education system forward in Iowa.”

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