San Diego, CA – (December 9, 2014) – The National Center for Urban School Transformation has announced that 22 schools from across the country have been chosen as finalists for the National Excellence in Urban Education Award. Among the finalists is O’Farrell Charter School.
“These schools are among the best urban schools in the nation,” stated Dr. Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., Executive Director of the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST), 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.”
These schools generate strong test results, high rates of attendance, and excellent student behavior. Furthermore, the outstanding results are apparent for every demographic group of students enrolled.
Beginning in early January, each finalist will receive a site visit from an NCUST evaluation team of researchers and practitioners. According to Dr. Lynne Perez, NCUST Associate Director, “We recognize schools that are great for every group of students served. Our focus is all about results: Are all students learning?” 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. Of those 48 impressive schools, 22 presented superior evidence of excellence and were named finalists.
After the site visits are completed, NCUST will announce 10 to 15 award winners in March. The finalists will compete in three divisions: elementary (for the 16 finalists serving grades pre-kindergarten through six); middle school (for the six finalist schools serving students up through grade eight); and high school (for the five finalist schools serving students through grade 12). Each winning school will receive $2,500 and will be featured at the National Excellence in Urban Education Symposium to be held in Dallas, TX, May 20-22, 2015.
When asked about the key factors that are common across all high-performing schools, Dr. Johnson is emphatic, “It’s all about curriculum, instruction, and climate. Great urban schools offer challenging, rigorous curricula. 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 NCUST 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. 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 (housed at San Diego State University) has identified, celebrated, and promoted the best practices of the nation’s highest performing urban schools. NCUST provides programs, tools, and research intended to help districts create more high-performing urban schools. For more information on the National Center for Urban School Transformation, their findings, as well as their programs, please visit their website at www.ncust.org or call (619) 594-7905.