Phoenix school among five AZ schools to earn Blue Ribbon Award

Vista College Preparatory (VCP), located in Phoenix, took home the highly-respected Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Award recognizes schools in two different categories: high performance and progress in closing the achievement gap.

In recognition of its efforts to close the achievement gap, VCP was one of five Arizona schools to earn a Blue Ribbon Award this year.

Julia Meyerson founded VCP in 2013 and served Kindergarten (K) and first grade. Today the school includes K through sixth grade and serves 500 students overall.

“Over 90 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced-priced lunch, over 90 percent are minority students,” said Meyerson, VCP founder and executive director. “We believe it is our obligation to ensure that our students receive the absolute best education- our team is proving that demographics do not determine destiny.”

She said VCP sets students up for success in three ways: longer school days, increased time and focus on literacy and strong parent engagement.

The longer school day and literacy focus directly impact academic success. But, why does parent and family engagement benefit student success?

William H. Jeynes of California State University, Long Beach, conducted a study to determine the impact of parent involvement of minority children’s academic achievement called A META-ANALYSIS: The Effects of Parental Involvement on Minority Children’s Academic Achievement.

The results of the analysis showed “parental involvement does generally affect the academic achievement of the minority groups under study.”

Meyerson said VCP averages nearly 100 percent participation at parent-teacher conferences.

Parent involvement, such as the kind demonstrated at VCP, positively impacts student academic success.

VCP’s unique practices are working.

Meyerson said when the school first opened, “many of our students came in significantly behind grade level.” But after the first state assessment at VCP, “that same group of founding students dramatically out-performed all low-income schools in the city of Phoenix and have continued to do so for the last three years.”

VCP serves K through sixth grade, but its goal is to become a high-performing K through eighth-grade school. Once VCP includes seventh and eighth-grade students, it plans to bring in a high school counselor to guide the middle school students.

Meyerson said that having a high school counselor as a resource to students will help VCP “ensure that our students are headed toward a high school that will ensure that they will continue on the college-going path. And that all of our kids not only get to college, but get through college.”

Arizona schools that earned the Blue Ribbon Award:

  •     Franklin Junior High School
  •     Gilbert Classical Academy High School
  •     Knox Gifted Academy
  •     Mesa Academy For Advanced Studies
  •     Vista College Preparatory

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