Pleasant Valley
Community Schools
State Honors Riverdale Heights for Student Success
web-Breaking-Barriers-2017

Pleasant Valley Faculty accepted the Breaking Barriers Award on January 19, 2017 in Des Moines, Ia.

For the third year in a row, Riverdale Heights is being recognized by the State Board of Education for the school’s work to raise achievement among groups of students who traditionally face challenges in the classroom.  In 2015 and 2016, the school won the Breaking Barriers award for work with Latino students.  This year, faculty and staff earned the award for work with African American students.

The Breaking Barriers Award goes to the school with the highest proficiency rates statewide in reading and math among specific groups of students, such as students whose first language is not English or students from low-income backgrounds.  State assessment results from the last three years were examined to confirm the positive trend in achievement.

At Riverdale Heights, 73% of African American students were proficient in reading and math, compared to the statewide average of 54%.

“As a district we value the importance of each and every child receiving core instruction, regardless of ELL or special education needs or socioeconomic status,” Riverdale Heights principal, Jennifer Gertson told the Breaking Barriers committee. “It can be a challenge to arrange schedules so that students receive core instruction, intervention services and the supports necessary to close achievement gaps while making grade level learning accessible.  Our staff does a wonderful job working through these challenges, collaborating to give student what they need.”

Mrs. Gertson attributes the success to several different ways staff members across the district teach our students.

“I cannot say we “target” any one group of students,” she said.  “Our building is becoming increasingly diverse and we celebrate that.  We have 13 different languages spoken in the building and we work to look at data within subgroups to make sure learning is accessible and expectations are high for every student.  WIN (What I Need) time is built in to each grade level’s schedule and teachers collaborate with reading specialists, special education teachers, ELL teachers, specials teachers, the counselor, administration and the Instructional Coach to analyze data and determine intervention based on multiple pieces of data.”

Mrs. Gertson also says the success is based on the relationships our students have with our faculty.

“It really does take everyone working together for a common goal.  If we continue to know our kids and what they need, and work together to give them the supports they require, we can make a difference and will close achievement gaps.    We don’t let anything become a barrier for that work to happen.”

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