BELLFLOWER – Seven Bellflower Unified schools were named California Gold Ribbon Schools on Wednesday for customizing instruction for struggling students in English language arts and math, creating a support system for homeschooled students and improving student culture through a discipline system that reinforces positive behavior.

The winning campuses are Albert Baxter, Frank E. Woodruff, Ramona, Thomas Jefferson and Washington elementary schools, the Intensive Learning Center and Las Flores Home Education Independent Study Academy.

“These awards are a great statement about the commitment of our teachers to student success,” Superintendent Dr. Brian Jacobs said. “In every case, the honors reflect our collaborative teaching culture, the use of data to drive student improvement and our ability to structure our instructional program for maximum effectiveness.”

The Gold Ribbon is California’s highest academic award, created in 2015 as a substitute to the Distinguished School Program to celebrate schools for model programs during rollout of the new California Standards. The program started with middle and high schools last year. This year, it recognized 772 elementary schools.

Schools applied for the Gold Ribbon program in November 2015. Applications were reviewed in January and site visits conducted through March. Regional award ceremonies will be held in May.

Bellflower Unified Winning Programs

Albert Baxter Elementary: The 500-student school operates a tiered, collaborative teaching system that uses data to drive instruction, academic support and intervention. Baxter customizes instruction to student needs, targeting intervention for struggling students and offering a deeper level of knowledge for high achievers. Interim assessments and classroom data show significant improvements over state test scores.

Frank E. Woodruff Elementary: The 599-student school’s Response to Intervention program uses a data-driven model to provide small-group instruction for struggling English language arts learners. The effort sculpts instruction to each student’s specific needs. The collaborative team has grown to include all teachers. Local assessments show the system is boosting proficiency levels.

Intensive Learning Center: The 623-student school’s discipline program, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), applies positive reinforcement of good behavior and tiered interventions as needed. The program immediately began reducing office referrals and improved student culture.

Las Flores Home Education Independent Study Academy: A hybrid program to support homeschooling families of 175 students, Las Flores customizes instruction in core classes twice a week based not on age or grade level, but on student need. Because the school’s model is rare, data is culled from classroom assessments and significant teacher collaboration is to key to ensuring coordination between courses.

Ramona Elementary: The 645-student school runs a schoolwide, tiered, collaborative teaching system – including the Response to Intervention program – that uses data to drive improvements in performance in English language arts. The effort is coupled with use of the PBIS discipline system. Local assessments show significant improvement for students, with English learners especially making strides.

Thomas Jefferson Elementary: The 607-student school strives to close the achievement gap for students who struggle with reading, often English learners who have had inconsistent schooling. Students receive special instruction 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The program – driven by data gleaned from local tests and teacher collaboration – has led to significant improvements in student performance.

Washington Elementary: Teachers at the 732-student school collaborate intensively to ensure students receive effective instruction in English language arts and math. Teachers review data from local assessments, craft common lesson plans and determinate appropriate interventions for students. So far, the effort is improving student scores and helping identify learning disabilities.