Topeka Public Schools Receives 2018 Magna Award for Equity Initiatives
This year, the Magna Awards recognize school districts and their leaders for their efforts to bring educational equity to their students. Topeka Public Schools has been awarded as a first place winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 student population category for the district's Equity Institute. The district is home to almost 14,000 students. "Topeka Public Schools is honored to have our work in Equity recognized on the national level," said Dr. Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of Topeka Public Schools. "Ensuring all students have equitable access to a high quality education that ensures their academic success is our focus and the improvements in our four and five year graduation rates are a result of our work in this area. Our dedicated staff, parents and volunteers work everyday to meet the needs of our students, and we are honored to be recognized with a Magna Award."
Through the district's focus on equity, state assessment scores have increased at all levels (elementary, middle and high school). In addition graduations rates have increased across multiple demographics. In 2013, the graduation rates for African American students was at 63.8 percent; in 2017, the district saw the highest rate over the last seven years at 78 percent. In 2014, Native American students saw a graduation rate of 40 percent, and in 2017 this had increased to 62.5 percent. This growth continues in the Hispanic populations who were graduating at a rate of 65.3 percent in both 2013 and 2014. In 2017, they increased to 69.5 percent. With a graduation rate of 82.2 percent for white students for 2017, the district knows the achievement gap still exists, but it is making strides in closing that gap.
“Educational equity is a crucial issue today,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, National School Boards Association Executive Director & CEO. “These Magna Award winning districts are examples of how public schools all over the country are making sure each of their students gets the support and services they need to succeed in school and in life.”
All 2018 winners are highlighted in the April issue of ASBJ. To read more about the Equity Institute, visit http://www.nsba.org/newsroom/american-school-board-journal/asbj-april-2018/breaking-down-barriers/equity-institute
This is the fourth time Topeka Public Schools has been recognized with a Magna Award. Other winning district initiatives include The Tot SPOT (2017), Education Station (2015) and Pine Ridge Prep (2014).
The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and food service operations, honor districts across the country for programs that break down barriers for underserved students. A panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from more than 100 submissions.
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The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA believes education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential. The association represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. www.nsba.org