Rowland Unified School District

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ROWLAND HEIGHTS, CA – DECEMBER 7, 2017 – The Rowland Unified School District received two Golden Bell Awards and was recognized by the California School Boards Association at the annual CSBA conference in San Diego on Thursday, November 30. The CSBA Golden Bell Award promotes excellence in education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding educational programs throughout California. Rowland Unified received distinction for: Nogales High School’s Success Academy, an intervention program that takes a unique approach to student intervention by addressing the whole child -- social, emotional and academic needs for “at-risk” students; and the District’s English Language Development Portfolio, which helps educators across the District assess the language development needs of K-12 English learners to help achieve effective teaching strategies to increase academic achievement.

The Board of Education and I are extremely proud of these prestigious Golden Bell Awards that are a tribute to the hard work of our dedicated staff that remain focused on closing the achievement gap so that all of our students can achieve and excel at the highest levels,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Julie Mitchell.

The Nogales Success Academy is innovative due to its purposeful development focus that academic achievement and a successful future for students cannot happen without first building a strong social/emotional foundation. By addressing these two key areas simultaneously, the program has evidenced exemplary results in students’ academic and personal lives. It accomplishes this with three comprehensive intervention and support elective courses to help students achieve: The S.E.R.V.E. program helps students improve their academics by building strong social, “family-like” bonds through imbedded peer- and adult- mentoring systems. The HOUSE program is a cohort model with the same core teachers in English, Math, and Science, which also assist students with intensive socio-emotional support, and relevant curriculum. The OPPORTUNITY program provides a double-block period that allows students to recover lost credits and provides support so they are able to reach and maintain credits and grades to graduate.


Since implementation, the Nogales Success Academy has positively impacted the climate and culture throughout the entire school. The schoolwide data reflects an overall 50% decrease in the number of discipline suspension incidents and a significant increase in students on tract to graduate and attend post-secondary education.

In 2012 when the California State Board of Education adopted new English Language Development (ELD) Standards with rigorous expectations, Rowland Unified moved forward to build capacity among its teachers to understand how instruction needed to change in order to support English learners’ success. Teachers across RUSD have worked collaboratively to develop and pilot an ELD Writing rulebook for teachers at each grade level. Additionally, the District developed and has now implemented in grades 7-12 an electronic ELD Portfolio, an assessment tool that prepares English learner students to be 21st century learners, equipped to effectively communicate in the digital world. The electronic format gives students a broader, more authentic audience, which supports their language development. This year the District will launch an electronic student portfolio, which focuses on integrating technology into high-quality instruction for all students. These efforts have helped teachers engage English learners in learning activities that improve their ability to communicate, collaborate and critically think in the core content classes.

            The CSBA Golden Bell Awards, now in its 39th year, reflect the depth and breadth of education programs and governance decisions supporting these programs that are necessary to address students’ changing needs throughout California. The awards program highlights best practices in education in all areas of operations, instruction and support services. For 2017, 250 entries in 19 categories were received. For more information and a complete list of winners, visit

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