Two statewide honors for Sonora High School
By Paul Krazer
For the La Habra Journal
The California Department of Education recently awarded Sonora High School two top awards.
The school has been recognized as a Gold Ribbon School and as a Title I Achieving School.
“We are also so proud to be named a Title I Achieving School,” said Adam Bailey, principal of Sonora. “This award acknowledges the heart and soul of Sonora’s staff who constantly go above and beyond for all students. We could not be more proud of our school.”
To be recognized as a Gold Ribbon School, a school must send an application to the CDE. The school must describe its program and explain why it feels it deserves Gold Ribbon designation. The CDE then sends a team of evaluators to the school to verify the school’s claims.
Sonora’s application centered on its iPaTh program. iPaTh stands for Individual Pathways for Academic Thinkers program.
The program was started in the summer of 2012 as a way of helping at-risk students to be successful in high school. It started as a summer bridge program for incoming freshmen who were deemed as being in danger of not succeeding in high school.
The four-week summer program served about 100 children and focused on elevating their reading, math and study skills.
As the first iPaTh students progressed through their freshman year, it was found that they needed further support. The program was expanded to include an elective course they could take as freshmen as well as after-school tutoring.
But has the intervention been successful?
A great deal of data has been collected on the students’ performance. Perhaps the most useful data are those which compare the iPaTh students to those who were invited to participate, but did not do so.
So far, the data validate the program. iPaTh students outperform other at-risk students who are not in the program.
In the summer of 2013 the bridge program was repeated for incoming freshman. Meanwhile, the first iPaTh group entered their sophomore year and it was found many of them needed continuing support. An iPaTh elective was offered for them. Another freshman bridge program was offered in the summer of 2014 and an elective for juniors was added for those who still need support. It is hoped that iPaTh will have a positive impact on the graduation rate and college attendance rate of the school’s at-risk students.
In late 2014, Sonora submitted its application for Gold Ribbon School designation. The application highlighted the success of the fledgling iPaTh program. A CDE team visited the school in April 2015 and validated Sonora’s claims, agreeing that the school is worthy of the Gold Ribbon School honor.
In addition to the Gold Ribbon honor, Sonora is also a Title I Achieving School.
This award is based on a school’s demographics and its students’ performance. About half of Sonora’s students get a free or reduced-price lunch. Often, such students show lower attendance rates, lower graduation rates and lower scores on standardized tests.
Over 95 percent of Sonora’s students graduate and over 90 percent pass the California High School Exit Exam on their first try. For this reason, Sonora earned the honor of Title I Achieving School.
“We are so proud of our Sonora staff, students and parents in earning the Gold Ribbon School Award for our Individual Pathways for Academic Thinkers program,” Bailey said. “This program is a testimony to how hard a group of teachers, support staff and parents can work to improve the lives of students at Sonora each day.”