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State leader honors Atkinson, Franklin

April 10, 2012

Oregon's top education official has recognized Atkinson Elementary School and Franklin High School, calling them "shining examples" of how education can work for all students.

Featured in PPS Pulse

State Superintendent Susan Castillo honored Atkinson and Franklin with Celebrating Student Success awards April 10, attended by representatives of both schools, PPS Superintendent Carole Smith and Portland School Board members Bobbie Regan and Trudy Sargent.

"You are the best of the best, and serve as shining examples for schools across the state," Castillo said to school and PPS leaders at a ceremony at Atkinson.

The awards honor schools that improve academic results — especially among lower-performing students.

How did they do it? Atkinson and Franklin staff both cite systemic changes that help them support the students who need it most. At Franklin, those include:

  • "Untracking" its advanced placement program, which has led to large increases in non-white students taking AP exams.
  • Using freshmen academies to smooth the path to high school and identify at-risk students.
  • Providing free tutoring and mentoring, and offering office hours so that students can talk one-on-one with teachers.

A junior at Franklin spoke about his experience.

"They've helped me a lot to make gains. not only academic, but as a human being," William Kerney said. "They've helped me become a better person."

Atkinson Principal Debbie Armandariz, explaining the school's success, notes improvements in curriculum, teacher training, family collaboration and reading interventions.

"Diminishing funds do not diminish our resolve or responsibility to educate all of our students," she said.

Addressing Superintendent Castillo, she added: "I think we’ll see more of you, because we’re just getting started."

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