Fannie Lou Hamer HS Earns Gold “School of Opportunity” Award

National Program Recognizing Outstanding and Equitable High Schools

NEPC’s “Schools of Opportunity” Spotlights 17 Schools in New York and Colorado

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado announced today that 17 high schools in New York and Colorado are the first to receive the “School of Opportunity” designation. These outstanding schools demonstrated a range of practices that ensured that all students had rich opportunities to succeed. All put students, not test scores, first.

The Schools of Opportunity project, funded by the Ford Foundation and the NEA Foundation, highlights excellent practices designed to expand student opportunity and access to academic success. The program was piloted in just two states in the 2014-2015 school year: Colorado and New York. Next school year, the project will include high schools nationwide.

Recognized schools received either a Gold or Silver designation. The Gold “Schools of Opportunity” in 2015 include the Bronx’s Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, a community high school that breaks the mold by providing its students with outstanding opportunities for success. School-based supports to keep students healthy; alternative, authentic assessments to help them show what they know, and the wise use of technology are three of the many reasons the school earned a Gold.

In an email, Congressman Serrano said, “I’m glad to see the Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom HS recognized at the national level with their designation as a Gold School of Opportunity by the National Education Policy Center. Their work should serve as a model and inspiration for schools and educators all across the country.”

Sunset Park High School in Brooklyn was the only other New York City to earn a Schools of Opportunity designation.  The school-community partnership of Sunset Park High School and Center for Family Life provides a range of daily academic and enrichment afterschool activities implemented by social workers, artists and young adults from the community, in collaboration with Sunset Park High School teachers.

In order to be recognized, school applications were required to go through four levels of screening, including rubric-based ratings by two evaluators. Evaluation teams also made in-person visits to the recognized “Gold” schools.

The project is jointly led by Professor Kevin Welner of the CU-Boulder School of Education, who directs the NEPC, and Carol Burris, the principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, NY. Burris was the 2013 New York State High School Principal of the Year.

Burris and Welner stress that the opportunity gaps facing the nation’s children arise from poverty, racism and other societal ills much more than from anything taking place in schools. But schools are nonetheless important, and they can make a real difference in children’s lives.

“When schools and communities focus their resources and efforts on closing opportunity gaps, they should be recognized, supported and applauded,” Burris said. “They should also serve as models for those who wish to engage in true school improvement.”

The Gold “Schools of Opportunity” in 2015 are, in alphabetical order:

  •     Centaurus High School, Lafayette, Colorado
  •     Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, Bronx, New York
  •     Grand Valley High School, Garfield, Colorado
  •     Jefferson County Open High School, Lakewood, Colorado
  •     Malverne High School, Malverne, New York

The 12 high schools that earned Silver Schools of Opportunity designation in 2015 are:

  •     Center High School, Center, Colorado
  •     Charles D’Amico High School, Albion, New York
  •     Durango High School, Durango, Colorado
  •     Eastridge High School, Rochester, New York
  •     Elwood – John H. Glenn High School, Elwood, New York
  •     Fox Lane High School, Bedford, New York
  •     Long Beach High School, Long Beach, New York
  •     Long View High School, Lakewood, Colorado
  •     Mapleton Early College High School, Thornton, Colorado
  •     Harrison High School, Harrison, New York
  •     Sleepy Hollow High School, Sleepy Hollow, New York
  •     Sunset Park High School, Brooklyn, New York
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