Downey Unified Middle School Recognized by State Superintendent
Griffiths Middle School is selected as one of the 2017 California Gold Ribbon Schools
On May 15, 2017, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, held a ceremony to recognize Downey Unified’s Griffiths Middle School as one of the 275 middle and high schools honored under the 2017 California Gold Ribbon School Awards Program. Griffiths received the Gold Ribbon Schools Award, the Title I Academic Achieving School Award, and the Career Technical Education Exemplary Program Award. These awards honor the dedication, hard work, and vision of the Griffiths educational community.
The focus of the California Gold Ribbon Schools Award is to recognize California schools that have made tremendous gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for all students, including English learners. These include, but are not limited to, the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, California English Language Development Standards, Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards.
“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st Century careers and college,” stated Torlakson.
Griffiths Middle School was eligible to apply for the Gold Ribbon Schools Award because of its strong 2015-2016 Smarter Balanced Assessment scores. “Schools applied for the award based on a model program or practice their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies,” Torlakson said in a news release. Griffiths Middle School submitted its application for the Gold Ribbon School Award in support of its “Distributed Leadership” model.
Griffiths was recognized for its Instructional Leadership Team that adheres to the principles of the “Distributed Leadership” model. Their collaborative leadership team guides the protocols used to strengthen the instructional best practices that increase student engagement and close the achievement gap. The strength of Griffiths’ model is in the expanded leadership capacities of its teachers as they frame and sustain the school culture. The Distributed Leadership model practice at Griffiths includes all Professional Learning Community lead teachers, Technology Teacher Leaders, counselors, and administrators and successfully incorporates and values all teachers’ voices, establishing “buy in” for the practice. Representatives of the Instructional Leadership Team of Griffiths attend specialized leadership training with Focused Schools. There are 7 areas of focus on which the Instructional Leadership Team concentrates, including using effective evidence-based teaching practices, creating targeted professional development, engaging families and the community, and creating their school-wide instructional focus of “Critical Thinking.” The work of the Instructional Leadership Team at Griffiths is implemented through Professional Learning Communities, Professional Development, and Parent Education Academies. Griffiths is proud of its framework of academic structures that ensures professional collaboration, research-proven teaching strategies, data collection/analysis, and targeted systematic interventions, with the goal of improving instruction and student engagement and achievement.
The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to have a program focused on honoring schools while the California Distinguished Schools Program is on hiatus. This interim is due to the period of time required for California to transition to new assessment and accountability systems. This new award, which began in 2014, recognized elementary schools last year where Downey Unified’s Old River Elementary School was selected. Downey Unified has had at least one school selected for this award each year.