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Student achievement

Emotional and Physical Mindfulness

The Hermosa Beach City School District shifted away from traditional academic plans to a curriculum that includes mindfulness and social-emotional learning.

The MindUP program, launched in 2011, incorporates breathing exercises and physical activities into class time for stress reduction, emotion regulation and attention improvement. Administrators implemented the program in response to a student survey that found that while students generally felt safe on campus, they wanted help managing personal issues.

Comprehensive Data Warehouse/Support System

An in-house data warehouse built in 2012 gives educators in Nevada’s large Washoe County School District quick access to the academic information they need to help each student succeed.

With the Business Intelligence Gateway system, or BIG, educators can track any students’ performance and create plans to improve grades. The data, which is updated every night, also allows educators to act more quickly when they spot students who are falling off the path to graduation.

RISE Mentoring

In 2014-15, Pearland ISD administrators and board members raised mental health concerns after three unrelated student suicides occurred within five months in the district.

Superintendent John Kelly implemented a districtwide mentoring program to provide a safe place for students to share their concerns and personal challenges.

Established in fall 2015, RISE Mentoring is a school-based program in which committed, caring adults from the community help students rise above obstacles and succeed in school and life.

Innovative Grants: Transforming Rent into Innovation in NC Schools

With funding tight, Newton-Conover City Schools launched a program in 2014 to support innovation: Instead of going to the general fund, fees collected when community groups rent district facilities could go to students and staff to develop their own projects. 

Grants between $500 and $1,500 have been awarded to projects that enhance learning and the school environment, ranging from purchasing a 3D printer that was used to fashion a prosthetic hand for a student to buying books for an all-boys book club aimed at underprivileged and at-risk elementary students.

Vietnamese Dual-Language Immersion

Nearly half of southern California’s Westminster School District’s 9,500 students are English language learners—2,000 of whom speak Vietnamese.

This school year, the district created the state’s first Vietnamese dual-language immersion program to preserve the population’s heritage and foster bilingual education. It is the fourth such program in the United States.

Engineering Class Takes Self-Sustaining Aquaponic Dome to Nicaragua

A project-based learning challenge that began in a Tennessee high school classroom culminated with students helping villagers in a remote tribal region of Nicaragua grow food. 

A local company asked students in a Cleveland High School engineering class to build a self-sustaining, solar-powered aquaponic dome that could feed 16 people for up to 10 years. 

A-E-O: Achievement, Enrichment, and Opportunity

Tremendous enrollment growth in the Columbia Public School District over the past decade has brought several challenges:

  • The free/reduced lunch rate has doubled from 25 percent in 2000 to nearly 50 percent in 2015.
  • English-language learners increased from 600 in 2010 to 1,200 in 2015.
  • The number of homeless students and those with mental health needs has also risen.

The district launched its AEO (Achievement, Enrichment, and Opportunity) initiative in August 2014 to cope with this growth and its ancillary issues.

Reading Buddies Across the State Line

Trained volunteers read to Bristol City Schools’ youngest students in an effort to put them on a promising life path. 

The volunteers do not teach students to read. Instead, they read to and with the students, who are in kindergarten through second grade. The district launched the program in 2013 when data revealed that only one in four third-graders at one of its Title I elementary schools were reading at grade level.

Measuring the Whole Child

In 2010, Tacoma Public Schools’ graduation rate was a low 55 percent.

A year later, the Washington district, under Superintendent Carla Santorno, created its first-ever strategic plan with an academic/graduation component that also focused on early learning. The district enlisted community partners to achieve results.

Elementary School Model

A new elementary school model designed by Howard County Public Schools in Maryland aims to close racial and economic achievement gaps, and enhance instruction for all students.

The intent of the “Elementary School Model” launched at two pilot schools in 2014-15 is to deploy the latest research on how children learn best to “shift away from the deficit-focused approach that has long dominated American education, toward an asset-based model that opens opportunities for all students.”