Rowland Unified and Ball Foundation Partner to Increase Literacy Achievement for All

ROWLAND HEIGHTS, CA – OCTOBER 2, 2007 – As school districts across the nation struggle with the challenges of literacy, Rowland Unified in Southern California is one of only two districts chosen for an innovative partnership that tackles literacy achievement through an intensive, systematic approach to transform schools where all children learn at high levels. Rowland Unified along with Allentown School District (PA) were selected from a pool of 180 mid-sized urban school districts nation-wide to partner with the Ball Foundation, a family-funded foundation based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The Foundation began partnering with schools and districts in 1992 to develop a model for transformational change through shared leadership and decision-making.

            The five-year partnership with Rowland Unified does not have a pre-programmed set of solutions --  together with the district, the foundation designs a set of activities and interventions to achieve significant and sustainable improvement in student performance.

            Our Ball partnership has opened a conversation about how to bring all children to high levels of literacy,” said Dr. Maria G. Ott, Superintendent of Rowland Unified.  “Our entire school district is participating in this important conversation.  By talking and sharing our successes about literacy, we are connecting the dots that will make Rowland a lighthouse district that shows how to achieve excellence for all.”

            Working together, the Ball Foundation and Rowland Unified are presenting a series of highly-participatory “data dinners,” where teachers, parents, staff and school community members from every school in the District are engaged in assessing the District’s strengths

            During the first year of the Ball Foundation Partnership (the 2006-07 school year), data was collected from Rowland students, parents, teachers and administrators by surveys, interviews and classroom visits. This data is being shared with approximately 350 school community representatives at three collaborative dinners. The next is scheduled for October 4.

            “The foundation has been so inspired by the level of commitment that stakeholders in Rowland Unified have to the challenging work of achieving excellence in literacy for all students in the district,” said Rex Babiera, Director of Learning and Communications for the Ball Foundation. “What the foundation has learned so far is that educators and parents in Rowland Unified truly embrace this challenge as their own, knowing that the foundation will support them, not impose a program on them.”

            The Ball Foundation partners with schools and districts to increase literacy achievement for all students by improving professional practice. The next phase of the partnership with Rowland Unified will include the District’s extensive strategic planning process. Beginning in October, teams of 25 members of representatives across the District will meet through March to design a multi-year plan with major objectives that the District will focus on over the next several years.

            The Ball Foundation envisions a high performance education system in which all children learn at high levels regardless of race, national origin, socio-economic status, native language, or culture. The Ball Approach, an adaptive process for change, is to support and enhance organizational learning and build sustainable organizational capacity that leads to literacy for all students.  For more information on the Ball Foundation, visit

The Rowland Unified School District is proud to serve 17,500 students at 23 elementary and secondary schools in the communities of Rowland Heights, Walnut, La Puente, City of Industry, and West Covina. Permits allow students from other communities to attend our schools. More than 5,000 adults (16+) are also served by the Rowland Adult and Community Education School. For more information about Rowland Unified, call (626) 965-2541 or visit