Campo Earns Gold Ribbon Distinction

Kelly Pien, News Editor

Campolindo has been named a Gold Ribbon award recipient by the California Department of Education (CDE).  372 California middle and high schools have earned the distinction.

“I’m really pleased that we won,” said Associate Principal Karen Findlay. “It was really a wonderful honor.”

The Gold Ribbon award replaces the previous title given to high performing schools by the CDE, the Distinguished School award. The was changed this year to reflect new Common Core standards.

The old award program asked schools to highlight 2-3 “best practices”, or school programs. The Gold Ribbon award application only called for 1 area to be highlighted. Additionally, the best practice had to relate to the Common Core.

“Well, it’s only 1 program to highlight, so in that sense it’s more focused, and perhaps a bit easier to write,” said principal John Walker, who helped complete the application. “But we have a lot of strong programs, so it was a more difficult decision in what do we want to highlight.”

The application process began in January, when Walker learned the school had qualified. Schools qualify based on their student performance data, which consists of standardized test scores, graduation rates, and the number of students taking advanced and AP classes.

The decision to apply for the award was easy. “We felt like we met the criteria, and we wanted our great staff and students to receive that recognition,” said Walker.

Walker, Findlay, and a committee of geometry teachers filled out an award application consisting of basic school information about teachers, the student body, testing information, and graduation rates.

“It’s kind of like filling out a college application,” said Walker.

They also had to highlight a “best practice”, or school program that was “making an effective transition from your traditional curriculum to the new Common Core curriculum,” said Walker.

Walker and Findlay chose to highlight the geometry program because almost every student on campus takes geometry and the program has a lot of “material” that could be shown to the CDE.

These materials included worksheets and new classroom practices that the new Common Core-based geometry classes are using to meet the new standards.

According to geometry teacher Jennifer Frugaletti, who was on the committee, students take notes on graphic organizers called “close reads,” which “are a way for students to get more control reading informational texts, as opposed to just literary texts.”

New problems of the month and performance tasks helped students get used to the new types of California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) questions and meet Common Core expectations that students will be able to explain their problem solving and apply it to real life situations.

The initial application was approved by the CDE, and a team of educators, 2 from the County of Education and 1 administrator in the county, visited the school on March 20 to verify that the programs Walker and Findlay wrote about in the application were being implemented. According to Walker, the educators met with the administrative team and AUHSD Superintendent John Nickerson to discuss the school and its programs, with a special emphasis on the geometry program. The educators also talked to all of the geometry teachers, visited geometry classrooms, and interviewed a dozen pre-selected geometry students about their experience with the program.

Frugaletti was one of the teachers interviewed. She explained, “They just wanted to hear more about what we thought, how we thought things were working, not working, where we were going to be making future improvements, and how successful we thought it [the new Common Core Geometry class] was with the students.”

Frugaletti added, “I think the committee was particularly impressed by the students they sat with. They did an interview with that group, and they thought that the students from Campo were very well spoken, could really speak to the material we had talked about without any prompting.”