Eastwood Middle earns National Excellence honor

Eastwood Middle earns National Excellence honor
Courtesy YISD
The School Yard
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 8:55am

Eastwood Middle School is among 16 U.S. schools to earn the prestigious 2014 National Excellence in Urban Education Award, an honor given to schools for demonstrating rigorous academic content, engaging instruction, and positive relationships among students, teachers, parents and administrators.

The award, given by the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) at San Diego State University, will be presented to Eastwood Middle School at a special May 22 ceremony during the National Excellence in Urban Education Symposium in San Diego, along with a $2,500 check.

Half of the 16 award-winning schools were given Bronze Awards, while the other half received Silver Awards. Eastwood Middle was the only school in both the city of El Paso and the state of Texas to receive a Silver Award – and now, it is eligible to win a Gold Award during the May 22 awards ceremony in San Diego. Gold Award winners receive a total of $5,000 to support educational efforts.

“We are so incredibly honored to have been named a recipient of the 2014 National Excellence in Urban Education Award,” said Eastwood Middle School Principal Malinda Villalobos. The 1,000-student Eastwood Middle was also recently re-designated as a Texas “School To Watch” by the Texas Middle School Association for its clear focus on academic growth and achievement while also meeting the needs of all its students.

“Our accomplishments are a testament to the dedication and teamwork of our faculty and staff, as well as students and parents,” Villalobos said. “Middle school is often a vulnerable time for youngsters. That makes it even more important for us to make sure our students receive the instruction and support they need to reach their academic potential and become healthy, well-rounded teen-agers.”

To qualify for the 2014 National Excellence award, schools had to:

  • Serve predominantly low-income students;
  • Meet student performance criteria that included achievement scores, high attendance rates, low suspension rates, and high graduation rates for every demographic group of students; and
  • Demonstrate rates of proficiency among each racial/ethnic/income group that exceeded the proficiency rates of all students in the state.

In addition, the schools could not use any selective admission criteria to screen out less-capable students. Eastwood Middle competed against National Blue Ribbon schools, National Title I Distinguished schools, and winners of other state and national awards to earn this honor, according to NCUST.

The 16 award-winning schools – including Eastwood Middle – have reached a level of achievement more typically seen in very affluent communities, and demonstrate evidence of effectiveness among all of their students, including English learners and students with disabilities, NCUST officials said.

“They prove that our nation’s urban schools can be wonderful centers of learning that change children’s lives,” said Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., Executive Director of NCUST. “As a nation, we should be seeking out opportunities to applaud and support these schools while we provide systematic, substantive assistance to other schools seeking to attain similar results.”

NCUST was founded as part of the QUALCOMM Institute for Innovation and Educational Success at San Diego State University. The mission of NCUST is to help urban school districts and their partners transform school into institutions where all students achieve academic proficiency, evidence a love of learning, and graduate well-prepared to succeed in post-secondary education, the workplace, and their community.

Ysleta ISD, a two-time national Broad Prize finalist, serves about 43,000 students in pre-K through 12th grade in 63 campuses, including two K-8 international schools and one early college high school. YISD’s 2013 state ratings were among the best in El Paso, with every campus meeting the state’s academic standards. Ysleta also had the most number of campuses in El Paso earning special distinctions in Math, English Language Arts, and Student Improvement.

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