Crater Renaissance Academy of Arts and Sciences in Central Point, Oregon, is one of only 8 schools from across the country to receive “gold” recognition as a “School of Opportunity,” a coveted national designation honoring excellent public high schools that engage in practices that build on students’ strengths and create supported learning opportunities for all students.
“Crater Renaissance Academy’s culture that focuses on acceptance, respect, care, kindness and ‘warm demands’ particularly stood out to the national team of reviewers,” said Carol Burris, School of Opportunity project co-director. The principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools have provided CRA with a set of guidelines that support the implementation of a progressive and intellectually rich education. “What really makes the school tick is the open-heartedness and good spirit of the people at the school who care for both the intellectual, emotional and physical health of all students.”
The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), based at the University of Colorado Boulder, sponsors the Schools of Opportunity project, which identifies excellent public high schools that actively strive to close opportunity gaps — the differences in opportunities and resources that drive the well-known achievement gaps.
“Schools play a key role in a student’s life and learning, and we should hold up excellent schools as exemplars,” explains Kevin Welner NEPC director and project co-director. Students’ learning arises from more than just what happens in school. Research suggests that about one-third of variance among students’ test scores can be attributed to schools, with the remainder likely due to poverty-related factors. Because schools play this important but not controlling role in measured learning, the Schools of Opportunity project rejects the idea that test scores identify the nation’s best schools.
“We instead offer an alternative way of assessing school quality—one that focuses on the day-to-day practices that schools choose to use,” said Welner. “We call attention to research-based practices to support all students and their teachers, thereby creating engaged and successful learning environments.”
Applications went through four levels of screening by review teams comprised of researchers, teachers, policy makers and administrators, who looked at school practices that fell into categories, such as create and maintain healthy school culture; broaden and enrich school curriculum; use a variety of assessments designed to respond to student needs; and support teachers as professionals.
Renaissance Principal Adrienne Hillman stated: “Part of our mission statement is ‘to serve as a beacon school,’ this honor allows us to continue our progress toward that goal. We are a school of unapologetic idealists governed by the CES principles (http://essentialschools.org/common-principles/). These principles are at the heart of all our decision making, and they align with the values of the Schools of Opportunity Award. We are proud of our students’ and staff’s hard work and passion in building our school and pleased to be recognized by an award that aligns with our beliefs about what a school should be.”
Washington Post Article: “The 20 schools that won 2016 Schools of Opportunity awards — and why they were selected”