The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is proud to announce that one of its partners, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC), has been awarded the California Gold Ribbon Award in recognition of the outstanding performance of its students in both English and math. The announcement was made last week in Sacramento by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson “All of us at Granada Hills Charter High School are honored that the state has recognized the tremendous success of our students and the hard work of our teachers and support staff,” said Executive Director Brian Bauer. “This award recognizes the dedication of everyone in the Granada Hills Charter family: students, teachers, staff and administrators. All of them are essential to providing the high-quality education our community deserves.”
To earn a Gold Ribbon, high schools must exceed state averages for student performance on California's Smarter Balanced Assessments. Along with measuring student performance, the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program also judges a school’s success in implementing a range of educational policies and programs, including local accountability plans. The Gold Ribbon program replaced the Distinguished Schools award, which honored schools based on student outcomes measured through standardized tests.
As part of the judging for the award, a team from the California Department of Education (CDE) visited GHC and observed co-taught classes in which a general education teacher and special education work as co-teachers in the same classroom serving special and general education students. The CDE team reviewed documents and interviewed teachers, paraprofessionals, students and parents regarding this model program. Team members particularly noted the high-quality of the co-taught classes and the professional development and other supports teachers receive at GHC and cited them as a model that other schools could replicate. Dr. Wendy Murawski, executive director and Eisner Endowed Chair of the CSUN CTL, has been working with Granada Hills for over 10 years on their co-teaching and program and, most recently, helped them obtain a grant to build and share their successful co-teaching practices. She has been providing professional development on co-teaching during evening sessions every other month this year for GHCHS and other local high school teachers as a part of this grant. The goal is to not only build and sustain Granada’s program, but to help share their practices with other local high schools who are beginning to implement more co-teaching as a way to support students with exceptionalities in their inclusive classes.
“We are especially pleased that this Gold Ribbon award acknowledges the cutting edge work of our general and special education programs that are helping students at Granada Hills Charter today and well into the future,” Bauer said. “These changes don’t always get noticed but are critical to maintaining a high-quality educational environment, which Granada Hills Charter is committed to providing.” In receiving the Gold Ribbon honor, GHC continued to exceed the state benchmarks on California’s Smarter Balanced Assessments. In 2016, 80% of GHC students met or exceeded those benchmarks on the English assessment, compared to the state average of 59%. On the math assessment, 59% topped the benchmarks, compared to the state average of 33%. And GHC’s 95% graduation rate in 2015 (measured as part of the Gold Ribbon program) topped the state average of 82%. As part of the Gold Ribbon program, CDE also recognized GHC as an Academic Achieving School. These are schools that receive Title I funds, which assist students living at or below the federal poverty line.
Murawski stated, “The CSUN CTL is proud to partner with a school that practices what we preach about truly meeting the needs of all learners. The co-teachers at Granada are truly committed to differentiating, collaborating, and working to meet students’ needs, no matter where they are. Marty Eisen, the co-teaching coordinator, has put his heart and soul into supporting this program. It is his dedication, combined with the very hard work of the co-teachers and the clear support of the administration, that has made Granada’s co-teaching program so successful. We at the CTL congratulate Granada Hills Charter HS for its very well-deserved award!”