Many have heard the Arizona Educational Foundation recently named Loma Linda Elementary School an A+ School of Excellence, however, there may be questions as what this really means. Let’s start with some background and then more specifically how it applies to the Loma Linda School Community. The A+ School of Excellence Program is a comprehensive school assessment program that celebrates outstanding schools and brings to light the positive stories and successes happening in public schools every day. The program is the only one of its kind in Arizona and was created by the Arizona Educational Foundation in 1983. The purpose of the program is threefold:
- To identify and give public recognition to outstanding public schools in Arizona;
- To make available a comprehensive framework of key criteria for school effectiveness that can serve as a basis for participatory self-assessment and planning in schools;
- To facilitate communication and sharing of best practices within and among schools based on a common criteria related to success.
In order for Loma Linda to submit an application for consideration of becoming an A+ School of Excellence, Loma Linda students had to demonstrate sustained high achievement through state assessment data. Loma Linda is currently labeled a B school by the state of Arizona, only 4 points away from being considered an A school for academic achievement. Once the school met the criteria of achievement, a comprehensive application had to be submitted which included current demographic information, a description of current programs and practices, documentation of parent and community involvement along with a profile of the school’s leadership and commitment to excellence, equity, and service.
A panel of judges reviewed applications, over 70 applications across Arizona were submitted, and then Loma Linda was awarded a site visit. The site visit consisted of five judges spending two days at Loma Linda observing, evaluating and verifying the information submitted in the application. As part of the site visit, every classroom was observed, judges participated in a staff meeting, a parent and community meeting and a student meeting where questions were asked about Loma Linda practices, climate and culture and finally an administrative meeting was held with the principal and judges. All information collected from the two day site visit was then submitted back to a panel at the Arizona Educational Foundation where Loma Linda was then named an A+ School of Excellence.
As a school community we are so proud and excited for this recognition. We know that we have so many practices in place to support student academic, behavior and social success and it is great to have that work recognized. Our students are proud to attend an A+ School of Excellence, as a former 8th grade student, stated, “Not many students can say they attended an A+ School of Excellence. I’m one of the few going off to high school that can say I come from an A+ School and I’m ready for high school.”