WASHINGTON (November 11, 2008) - On Thursday, November 13 in Washington, D.C., The Education Trust will present the sixth annual Dispelling the Myth awards to four schools from across the country that have been extraordinarily successful in educating low-income students and students of color to high academic levels.
The awards recognize schools for making significant strides in narrowing gaps in academic achievement among student groups, showing achievement levels that significantly exceed the averages in their states, or improving student performance at a rapid pace.
The 2008 Dispelling the Myth schools are:
Â· Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Va.;
Â· Norfork Elementary School in Norfork, Ark.;
Â· Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Roxbury, Mass.; and
Â· Wells Elementary School in Steubenville, Ohio.
While these schools don't offer simple answers or easy solutions to the gaps that far too often separate low-income students and student of color from their peers, several common strategies emerge from their practices. Among them are providing rich curriculum coupled with strong, focused instruction; having high expectations for all students; using data to track student progress and individual student needs; and employing purposeful professional development to improve teachers' skills.
"They're not just working harder than other schools--they're working smarter," said Kati Haycock, President of The Education Trust. "And though their efforts are nowhere near finished, they've already shattered the misguided and dangerous belief that achievement gaps are inevitable. These schools are a testament to the power of committed educators to literally transform the life chances of young people."
The four schools will be honored during the 19th Education Trust National Conference, the annual gathering of educators dedicated to closing the gaps in achievement and attainment that persist in our nation's schools. Participants at this year's conference, "It's Up to Us: Going the Distance to Close Gaps and Raise Achievement for All," will examine strategies and practices that are producing higher achievement levels for all groups of students, from pre-kindergarten through college.
"When educators and policymakers work together to ensure that all students are well prepared for the future, change is absolutely possible," said Haycock. "Dispelling the Myth schools prove that this kind of change can happen now, and offer inspiration for other schools ready take on the challenge and follow their lead."
About the 2008 Dispelling the Myth Award Recipients
Graham Road Elementary School
Falls Church, Va.
Students in suburban Fairfax County, Va., on average, come from affluent homes, score well on the SAT, and regularly are admitted to the nation's top colleges and universities. However, the district averages mask large gaps: Fairfax's African-American and Latino students are often outperformed by students of color in the state's inner cities. But while more than 80 percent of the students at Graham Road Elementary School qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and nearly all are non-white (primarily the children of recent immigrants), every sixth grader met or exceeded state reading standards in 2008, and 96 percent met or exceeded state math standards.
Norfork Elementary School