Long Beach High School has received a Silver Award in the National Education Policy Center’s Schools of Opportunity project, a new national recognition program supported by the Washington Post. Only seventeen schools in the country were distinguished as award winners. The initiative “seeks to identify and recognize excellent public high schools that actively strive to close opportunity gaps by engaging in practices that build on students’ strengths, thereby creating engaging and supported learning opportunities for all their students.”
Award recipients were selected based on their ability to meet at least six out of 11 areas of criteria. The Long Beach School District highlighted the high school’s success in creating and maintaining a healthy school culture, broadening and enriching school curriculum, providing more and better learning time during the school year and summer, ending disparities in learning created by tracking and ability grouping, supporting teachers as professionals, providing adequate resources for safe and well-maintained school environments, addressing key health issues and expanding access to libraries and the internet while using technology wisely.
The Schools of Opportunity program specifically cited Long Beach High School’s teaming and grouping in the ninth and 10th grades, self-selection opportunities in the 11th and 12th grades and open access to the more rigorous International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, SUPA, electives and honors-level classes as being among its greatest strengths.
Students are able to choose which classes they take, and enrollment in college-level courses has increased significantly over the past several years. This year, 585 students participated in at least one college-level course. Student performance in Advanced Placement classes has improved as well. The number of students achieving a 3 or higher on an AP exam and a 4 or higher on an IB exam has increased by more than 500 percent over the past 15 years.
The school’s leadership team faculty model and ongoing professional development initiatives were also acknowledged as particularly noteworthy features. Common planning time is scheduled for teachers each day, during which they can collaborate on the development, planning and review of activities, units and lessons, assessments and student work.
Other factors that influenced Long Beach High School’s recognition include the comprehensive arts program, facilities enhancements completed through the School Preservation Plan, technology resources, pupil and personnel services and additional student support programs.
The district has been recognized by the NAMM Foundation as one of the Best Communities for Music Education for five consecutive years, and students have many opportunities to participate in music and the arts. Construction projects provided upgraded security, new science labs, a new photo lab, a digital media studio, new athletic facilities including a turf field, and a building extension as well as other interior renovations to the high school. The building is fully wireless, and students use iPads, laptops and other technological equipment across subject areas.
Students are also offered support through the Life Skills, alternative education and English Language Learners programs, and staff received training in a tolerance program to address the needs of all students.
“We are pleased to announce this distinction earned by the high school, which reflects the collaboration of our Board, administration, staff and community,” said Superintendent of Schools David Weiss. “Our district emphasizes opportunities for all students, and we strive to fulfill our goal of providing access to a broad range of learning opportunities.”