Six schools in the Long Beach Unified School District have earned recognition from the National Center for Urban School Transformation. Tucker, Signal Hill and King elementary schools, along with Robinson K-8 Academy, each made the 2008 Honor Roll, a distinction shared by only 53 schools in the United States. Of these four local schools, both Tucker and Signal Hill were selected to advance as finalists for NCUST’s top honor this spring, the 2008 Excellence in Urban Education Award. Only 20 finalists were chosen nationwide. The finalists “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.” The remaining two local honorees, Riley and Addams elementary schools, were recognized as Schools on the Move, demonstrating “dedication to the achievement of success in urban education.” LBUSD was the only school district in California to produce two finalists for the top award. In fact, NCUST chose only two other California schools as finalists this year – one in Bakersfield and one in Sacramento. Last year, Long Beach’s Edison Elementary School became one of only seven schools nationwide to win NCUST’s top honor, while LBUSD’s Signal Hill Elementary School qualified as one of only 18 finalists. To compete for the top award, urban school applicants must meet 11 rigorous criteria, including proficiency rates on state assessments that exceed state averages, high achievement for all demographic groups served, high attendance rates, low suspension and expulsion rates for all demographic groups served, high graduation rates, and the attainment of federal Adequate Yearly Progress goals. The majority of students served at the schools must meet low-income criteria, and the schools must have non-selective admissions policies. Only 53 applicants from across the nation met these lofty criteria. All 53 of them are listed as NCUST’s 2008 National Honor Roll. The 20 finalists are the honor roll schools that presented the strongest evidence of high levels of achievement for all of the students they serve. These 20 schools will receive on-site visits that will lead to the selection of ten winners, who will be recognized at the 2008 NCUST symposium May 7 to 9 in San Diego. Winners will receive an award check for $1,000 and a large banner for their school, as well as a commemorative photo album, a profile published on the NCUST website, and complimentary travel and registration for two people to the symposium. Representatives from each winning school, along with several finalists, will present their successful strategies at the 2008 symposium. NCUST is part of the QUALCOMM Institute for Innovation and Educational Success at San Diego State University. The organization was founded to support urban schools nationwide, encouraging their transformation into highly successful institutions that promote enthusiastic learning, student success and the preparation for a positive future. For more information, visit ncust.org.