CSBA’s Golden Bell Awards program is renowned for recognizing some of the many success stories in California public schools. This is the 33rd year of the program, which will salute 58 winners on Dec. 1 at the association’s annual conference.
This year, programs in 18 categories were chosen as good examples of innovative and sustainable ways to make a demonstrated difference for students.
Programs that are helping schools close the achievement gap garnered the most Golden Bells. Eleven awards go to California districts that are helping all their students achieve through after-school programs, mentoring, instructional interventions, scheduling changes, use of data and other means.
One highly rated program is Whittier Union High School District’s Students Saving Students academic mentoring program, which pairs students in higher grades with freshmen throughout the year. The percentage of students receiving a D or F grade has dropped 19 percent, and on-time graduation rates are up 10 percent, while the district’s API score has grown 100 points.
Del Mar Union School District’s interest in the conditions of children is evident in its Child Development Center Preschool, which blended the district’s special education and mainstream preschool programs; it’s a winner in the Early Childhood Education category.
“I was amazed to see infants sitting around the table [in special seats] listening to stories being read by a credentialed reading specialist! Amazing!” wrote one application validator. “The infants were thoroughly involved in the books they were listening to. This school community is definitely getting their young ones off to a great start!”
Space does not permit a review of each winner, but one reviewer probably said it best when she visited the Assistive Technology and Sensory Integration program at Lemon Grove School District:
“I don’t feel the application really does justice for the events taking place at that school. You can’t put dedication, compassion and a love for that type of teaching onto paper,” she wrote. “An amazing staff doing amazing things for amazing students.”