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Urban Schools Finalists for National Award

Schools from two San Diego districts are among 27 recognized by SDSU's National Center for Urban School Transformation.

Twenty-seven elementary, middle and high schools are finalists for the National Excellence in Urban Education Award. 

children in classroom
The National Excellence in Urban Education Award recognizes elementary, middle and high schools in urban areas.

“These schools are among the best urban schools in the nation,” said Joseph F. Johnson Jr., executive director of San Diego State University's National Center for Urban School Transformation, the organization that administers the award program. “Although these schools serve low-income communities with an array of challenges, every finalist boasts achievement results that exceed state averages for all students.

“While we have enjoyed the honor of awarding phenomenal schools each year since we initiated the program in 2006, in many respects, this may be our strongest cohort of finalists,” Johnson noted. 

These schools generate strong test results, high rates of attendance and excellent student behavior. The high schools have high graduation rates and large percentages of students who continue to post-secondary education.

Furthermore, the outstanding results are apparent for every demographic group of students enrolled.

Site visits determine winners

Each finalist will receive a site visit from the center's evaluation team of researchers and practitioners. The team will then select 10 to 15 award winners. 

“We recognize schools that are great for every group of students served,” said Lynne Perez, the center's associate director. “Our focus is all about results: Are all students learning?” said Lynne Perez, the center's associate director.

Among the thousands of urban schools throughout the nation, only 48 presented applications documenting that they met all the base criteria for the National Excellence in Urban Education Award. Those 48 schools are the center’s honor roll schools for 2012. 

Our focus is all about results: Are all students learning?

Among those 48 impressive schools, 27 presented superior evidence of excellence and were named finalists, including eight schools from two San Diego-area school districts (see complete list below).

The finalists will compete in three divisions:

  • Elementary with 16 finalists serving grades pre-kindergarten through six
  • Middle school with six finalist schools serving students in grades seven and eight
  • High school for the five finalist schools serving students in grades nine through 12

Each winning school will receive $2,500 and will be featured at the National Excellence in Urban Education Symposium to be held May 23-25 in San Diego, Calif.

Key factors in high-performing schools

When asked about the key factors that are common across all high-performing schools, Johnson is emphatic that it's all about curriculum, instruction and climate. 

“Great urban schools offer challenging, rigorous curricula," Johnson said. “They expect students to excel, even when they might have difficult home situations.

“Furthermore, in great urban schools teachers provide a caliber of instruction that helps students learn challenging content. Instruction is clear, focused, and engaging. Teachers present content in ways that make it easier for students to relate and understand. 

“Finally, the school climate is safe, positive and supportive. School administrators and teachers work together to establish a climate that engages parents, supports students and breeds success.” 
 
To be eligible for the award, schools must have high numbers of low-income students and may not have selective admissions policies. The school’s test results must be better than the state average for all students. 

Great urban schools offer challenging, rigorous curricula.

Also, the school’s test results for every demographic group of students must be better than the state average for all students. All schools must have high attendance rates, low suspension and expulsion rates, high graduation rates and evidence of excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
 
Since its inception, the National Center for Urban School Transformation has identified, celebrated and promoted the best practices of the nation’s highest performing urban schools. The center provides programs, tools and research intended to help districts create more high-performing urban schools.  

List of finalists

The 27 outstanding schools selected as finalists are listed below by state and district.

Arizona

  •  Tucson Unified School District: C.E. Rose Elementary School, Tucson

California

  • Chula Vista Elementary School District:  Harborside Elementary, Lauderbach Elementary, Montgomery Elementary,  Mueller Charter School, Otay Elementary and Silver Wing Elementary, Chula Vista
  • Glendale Unified School District: Columbus Elementary, Glendale
  • Long Beach Unified School District: Lafayette Elementary and Roosevelt Elementary, Long Beach
  • Santa Ana Unified School District: Jim Thorpe Fundamental Elementary, Santa Ana
  • Sweetwater Union High School District: Granger Junior High School and National City Middle School, National City

Florida

  • Broward County School District:  James S. Hunt Elementary, Coral Springs; William Dandy Middle School, Ft. Lauderdale

New York

  • New York City Department of Education: Chester Park Elementary, New York City
  • Rochester City Schools: Francis Parker Elementary, Rochester

North Carolina

  • Durham Public Schools: R. N. Harris Integrated Arts/Core Knowledge School, City of Medicine Academy and J. Dobbs Clement Early College High, Durham

Ohio

  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District: William C. Bryant School, Tremont Montessori and MC2 STEM High School, Cleveland

Oklahoma

  •  Moore Public Schools: Fairview Elementary Schools, Oklahoma City

Texas

  • Dallas Independent School District: Trinidad Garza Early College High School and Uplift Education Peak Prep High School, Dallas 

Utah

  • Salt Lake City Public Schools: Newman Elementary, Salt Lake City

For more information on the National Center for Urban School Transformation, their findings and their programs, please visit the website at www.ncust.org or call 619-594-7905.

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