Helen Hanson Elementary School honored for breaking education barriers

Helen Hanson Elementary School in Cedar Falls was one of five Iowa schools honored by the State Board of Education for their work to raise achievement among groups of students who traditionally face challenges in the classroom.

The Breaking Barriers to Teaching and Learning Award was created by the State Board of Education. Each year, the award recognizes successful efforts to eliminate achievement gaps. This year’s award-winners were recognized for having the highest proficiency rates statewide in math and reading among a specific subgroup of students, such as students whose first language is not English and students from low-income backgrounds. State assessment results from the last three years were examined to confirm a positive trend for each school.

Helen Hansen Elementary was recognized for its work with students who have special needs and are on an Individualized Education Programs (IEP). Among Hansen’s students on IEPs, 79 percent are proficient in reading and math, compared to a statewide average of 43 percent.

“We commend these schools for their work to demonstrate that students can succeed regardless of their backgrounds,” said State Board of Education Vice President Michael Knedler. “We have work to do as a state to close achievement gaps and improve for the sake of all students, and Iowa has the right roadmap in place to get us there. It includes a comprehensive teacher leadership system, an early literacy initiative, and a coordinated effort to connect students with high-demand, rewarding careers.”

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