Posted January 29th, 2016
It is the mission of the Pleasant Valley Community School District to have the finest academic and extra-curricular activities in the state. Not in some things but in all things. Not for some kids but for every kid. Faculty and staff work together every day to figure out what each student needs to succeed in our global society. For some, it’s extra help with long vowel sounds; for others, it’s memorizing the quadratic equation. No matter if it’s an at-risk student who needs extra help or a high-performing student who needs to explore a lesson deeper, Pleasant Valley faculty and staff identify the need and nurture it.
Riverdale Heights Elementary is getting statewide attention for its commitment to the PV mission. The Iowa State Board of Education honored the school for the second year in a row for the staff’s work to raise achievement among groups of students who traditionally face challenges in the classroom. Riverdale Heights is one of just four schools in the state to receive the Breaking Barriers Award. The school is being recognized specifically for its work with Latino students. At Riverdale Heights, Latino students are, on average, 93 percent proficient in reading and math. That compares to the state average of 66 percent. On January 21, 2016, Principal Jennifer Gertson and members of the faculty joined Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and the State Board of Education to receive the honor.
Principal Gertson says this honor is indicative of what teachers are doing in and out of the classroom across the district: using assessment data to identify what each student needs most and working together to come up with a plan to help each student. She says they’re not “targeting” Latino students, but all students, to make sure every one is achieving at his or her highest level.
The Breaking Barriers Award winners have the highest proficiency rates state wide in math and reading among specific subgroups of students, such as students whose first language is not English and students from low-income backgrounds. State assessment results from the last three years were examined to confirm a positive trend for each school.
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