Press Release

WASHINGTON (October 22, 2013) — On Thursday, Oct. 24, The Education Trust will present the 11th Annual Dispelling the Myth Awards to four public schools from across the country. Each of these schools has demonstrated that it is committed to educating students to high academic levels regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or zip code.

“These ordinary educators — with extraordinary grit and the extraordinary results to prove it — show what is possible in all schools,” said Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust. “The Dispelling the Myth Award recipients never lose sight of where we’re headed and never forget for a second why all of our kids need the same opportunities for high achievement. They continue to inspire our work every day.”

This year’s Dispelling the Myth Award recipients are:

  • Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Elementary School – Miami
  • Arcadia Elementary School – Olympia Fields, Ill.
  • Chadwick Elementary School – Baltimore
  • Pass Christian High School – Pass Christian, Miss.

The award recognizes schools with large populations of low-income students and students of color who are performing similarly to more affluent students throughout the state. By recognizing each of these outstanding schools with the Dispelling the Myth Award, The Education Trust seeks to dismiss the idea that there is little schools can do to help students overcome the barriers of poverty and discrimination.

The 2013 Dispelling the Myth awardees will be honored for their important work at The Education Trust 2013 National Conference in Baltimore, appropriately themed “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Results.” The conference convenes educators and advocates from all across the country who are working toward the shared goal of raising student achievement and closing opportunity gaps.

About the 2013 Dispelling the Myth Award winners:

Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Elementary School


Most of the students attending Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Elementary School are the children of recent immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean — 87 percent of Finlay’s students are low-income and more than half are still learning English. But, these challenges only strengthen the resolve of the faculty, many of whom are also the children of immigrants. As Principal Cecilia Sanchez says, “We see ourselves in them.” With instruction in both English and Spanish, teachers aim to ensure that all students are literate in both languages. To this end, they continually evaluate their own work to know with certainty what is working and for which of their students. The result? Higher percentages of Finlay students meet state reading and math standards than in the rest of the state. For example, 73 percent of Finlay’s fifth-graders met or exceeded state reading standards compared with 60 percent of all students statewide.

Arcadia Elementary School

Olympia Fields, Ill.

Community is a constant theme at Arcadia Elementary School, a kindergarten through third-grade school that serves more than 500 students, most of whom are African American and 65 percent of whom come from low-income families. Classroom rosters are built carefully to ensure a mixture of students who can work well together; leadership teams are constructed thoughtfully to capitalize on the strengths of teachers; and an extensive volunteer program welcomes parents and neighbors to be members of the school community. One indication that the school’s attention to community is paying off: More than 1,400 parents, students, siblings and community members attended this year’s back-to-school night. “You can’t be successful if you don’t build teams,” says Principal Pat Ransford. Under her leadership, Arcadia has seen success on state assessments — about 70 percent of third-grade students exceed math standards, compared with 43 percent of students in the state.

Chadwick Elementary School


Students at Chadwick Elementary — a mix of African American children and new immigrants from African, Southeast Asian, Central American and Arabian countries, 79 percent of whom are low-income — are held to a high standard, according to Principal Bonnie Hess. Chadwick Elementary relies on a homegrown reading program to ensure that all their students master the English language, build a robust vocabulary, and can decode and comprehend written English. The proof is in the results. At Chadwick, not only do nearly all students meet state standards in reading and math, but roughly 95 percent of all students (including 93 percent of African American students and more than 95 percent of low-income students), exceed standards in fifth-grade reading. These scores starkly contrast with the rest of the state, where less than 40 percent of African American and low-income students exceed standards.

Pass Christian High School

Pass Christian, Miss.

In a state where only 74 percent of students graduate from high school, 84 percent of Pass Christian High School’s students do — not just white or middle-class students, but also their African American (31 percent of enrollment) and low-income students (56 percent). And the students don’t just squeak over the graduation line either. Eighty-six percent of the class of 2012 took the ACT exam in 2011, and the average score was 21.4, well above the state average. Their steady improvement trajectory was not even deterred by Hurricane Katrina. As Principal Meredith Bang said, “We were not willing to lose a year of education in the lives of our students.” They set up trailers and kept focused on their mission, “Committed to Excellence.” Pass Christian is focused on preparing all its students for college and other postsecondary opportunities. As one student said, “College was never in my sights — until I moved here.”

For more on the awards, please visit our new Dispelling the Myth website.


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