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Keller Among Nation's Best Schools

Keller Dual Immersion Middle School has earned a 2018 America’s Best Urban Schools Award from the National Center for Urban School Transformation.

Only 15 schools won the national honor during this month’s America’s Best Urban Schools Symposium in San Diego.  Winning schools demonstrate multiple indicators of excellence for each demographic group served. 

“Among the thousands of urban schools throughout the nation, this outstanding school is one of the few able to document that it met all of our rigorous award criteria,” NCUST Executive Director Joseph Johnson said.  “You should be proud that Keller serves as a model for urban schools throughout the United States.”

Keller Principal Thomas Espinoza said his school has surpassed state levels for each demographic group on assessments.

“It’s amazing that out of hundreds of schools nominated, only 15 were winners at the national level,” Espinoza said.  “It’s great to see everyone at Keller recognized for their hard work.  Really, everyone had a hand in this.”

Winning schools were recognized at the gold, silver and bronze levels, with Keller earning a bronze award.  Criteria include high rates of academic proficiency, including for every racial/ethnic group, evidence of high achievement for English learners and for students with disabilities, low rates of suspensions, high attendance rates and other requirements.

The Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education in 2015 approved the re-use of the former Keller Elementary School site to offer dual immersion instruction in English and Spanish for grades 6 to 8.  The middle grades program moved from nearby Patrick Henry K-8 School, which returned to its original K-5 configuration.  The reconfiguration allowed the school district to expand the sought-after dual immersion program in Henry’s elementary grades by devoting a separate, entire site to the middle grades immersion program.  Dual immersion programs remain in high demand among parents.

NCUST, based at San Diego State University, has recognized several LBUSD schools in the past, including Addams, International (now Oropeza), Signal Hill, Tucker, Edison, King, Riley, Robinson, Lafayette and Roosevelt.  The mission of NCUST is to help urban school districts and their partners transform urban schools into places where all students achieve academic proficiency, show a love of learning, and graduate well prepared to succeed in post-secondary education, the workplace and their communities.

NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED – Accepting a 2018 America’s Best Urban Schools Award on behalf of Keller Dual Immersion Middle School is National Board Certified teacher and Spanish Department Chair James Orihuela with Principal Thomas Espinoza.  Only 15 schools in the U.S. won the award.