Signal Hill Elementary Wins National Honor

Signal Hill Elementary School is one of six schools nationwide to receive the 2007 National School Change Award for significant improvement in student achievement. The award is given by the National Principals Leadership Institute at the Fordham University Graduate School of Education. The award is the Long Beach Unified School District’s second such honor in two years. Roosevelt Elementary School won the same award last year. The Signal Hill award will be presented at the school during a ceremony on Monday, May 21. "We're thrilled to receive this award for the continuous improvement that's gone on at Signal Hill," Principal Karen Williams said. "The credit goes to the school's staff and community. They routinely go above and beyond to do what's best for our hardworking students." Signal Hill students outperform what is statistically predicted for them. Of the 750 students enrolled at the K-5 school, 90 percent qualify for free and reduced lunches. Yet the school’s Academic Performance Index (API) rose from 667 in 2000 to 839 in 2006, far surpassing state targets for growth and overall achievement. The state’s ultimate API target for all schools in California is 800. The transformation at Signal Hill has been driven by collaboration among the principal, teachers and staff, who regularly analyze student performance data to adjust instruction and teacher training. Regular time is set aside for teachers to learn from proven practices designed to raise student achievement. Signs of continuous improvement are visible throughout the school. Walls are posted with grade level targets and charts showing their progress. Teachers work in small groups collecting data on student learning, especially emphasizing math, reading and language development instruction. The award competition is conducted and co-sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and the Fordham University Graduate School of Education. Schools are measured against sixteen criteria, including: quality of teaching; alignment of standards, curriculum, instruction and assessment; and perception of positive change among parents, students, teachers and administrators. This year, 127 nominations were received, with 24 finalists selected, then six winners. Long Beach’s Edison Elementary School also was one of the 24 finalists this year. The award to each of the six winning schools includes a $5,000 grant and participation by the school’s principal in the National Principals Leadership Institute at Fordham. The award also includes a presentation by the United States Department of Education at a ceremony in New York City in July. Signal Hill is a past winner of the California Distinguished School Award and the Title I Academic Achievement Award.