Congratulations to John Burroughs Middle School, which was honored last week as one of 275 California middle and high schools named a Gold Ribbon school by the California Department of Education. In all, 13 LAUSD schools earned the distinction, but Burroughs was the only middle school in LAUSD’s Local District West to receive the award.
“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,”Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction said in a press release announcing the awards.
In addition to the Gold Ribbon designation, Burroughs also received a Title I Academic Achievement Award, which was given to Gold Ribbon schools that also receive federal Title I funds to meet the educational needs of students at or below the poverty line, and which have demonstrated success in significantly closing the achievement gap between high and low-performing students.
To be considered for the Gold Ribbon Schools Award Program, schools first had to validate higher-than-average percentages of students who met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts and Math tests during the 2015-16 school year. Then they had to submit an application detailing their best practices, how those practices have translated into progress towards student mastery of state standards, and how the practices can be replicated by other schools.
According to school counselor Jain Choe, the John Burroughs best practices focused on what the school refers to as the “BEAR” model”:
B – Building the whole child
E- Evidence Based
Angela Knapp, the school’s instructional coordinator, writes that the BEAR goals are addressed in many ways:
“At Burroughs we understand that the transition to middle school can be challenging for students. The John Burroughs teaching staff is comprised of veteran and newer members to the team who work diligently to support the parents and students of our school community.
To assist our students with the transition we have lowered our counselor-to-student ratio to 300 students to 1 counselor, giving us one of the lowest counselor-to-student ratios in LAUSD. We have a full-time Psychiatric Social Worker and School Psychologist that works with classes, small groups, and individual students to ensure that students practice mindfulness and build resiliency. We also have established partnerships with various mental health agencies in the community to provide both school-based and off-site mental health supports for students.
Everything that we do at Burroughs is data driven. Our faculty and staff looks at several data points to determine the best way to help students achieve. We have a strong evidence-based intervention program for students needing academic support that happens during the school day and after school. Our reclassification rate for our English Language Learners is above the district goal and we are working to reclassify more students each year.”
“Over 1/3 of our students are designated as high achieving and gifted. We have enrichment opportunities including National Junior Honor Society, Drama, Orchestra, Coding, and will be adding a Robotics program in the fall of 2017.
We have a teacher-driven cadre that develops professional development for the faculty throughout the year. The cadre not only leads professional development sessions on incorporating technology, differentiating instruction, and best practices, they also recently created and began implementing their own Peer Observation Protocol (POP). This observation protocol is designed to encourage teachers to work together to increase instructional rigor and support student achievement.”
LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King, quoted in a statement released by the Burroughs staff, said, “I am very proud of our Gold Ribbon schools, which are shining examples of innovation and creativity.”
And John Burroughs principal Dr. Steve Martinez agrees, telling the Buzz yesterday, “The JB team works very hard to establish a strong academic and anti-bullying climate for the students we serve. We are also aware of the high expectations that the community has for their neighborhood school, and the Gold Ribbon award is a strong indicator that we are meeting those high expectations.”