Evans middle school goes from turnaround school to top performing school within a matter of years

Posted at 9:26 PM, Mar 30, 2023

EVANS, Colo. — There’s a lot of smiles at Prairie Heights Middle School in Evans, Colorado — and with good reason! The school has made dramatic progress on the Colorado Department of Education’s performance ratings.

A decade ago, the school was identified as a turnaround school: a school the CDE would like to see strengthened. The CDE assigns a point person, and school and district staff work on an improvement plan. After a lot of hard work and determination, the school was deemed a top performing school in its most recent review.

So how did the school do it?

“Our teachers really take the time every week to sit down with students, talk to them, get to know them, make sure they’re working with them to support them and prioritize their goals for the week and really let them know they have a trusted adult in this building,” said Prairie Heights Middle School Principal Stephanie Knox.

Knox says it’s all about putting kids first.

The district adopted Summit Learning, a comprehensive program that offers schools customizable curriculum, resources and technology tools, professional development for teachers and ongoing support.

“Our district, with the leadership of [Greeley-Evans School District 6 Superintendent Dr. Deirdre Pilch], really has been a support for us in letting us really get into that work and make a difference for our kids,” said Knox.

Twenty percent of the school's student population are learning English as their second language, and 15 percent of students are on an IEP, a specialized plan for students who need extra help and support, according to Knox.

Representatives from various organizations, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, were at the school Thursday to celebrate Prairie Heights Middle School's accomplishment and get a tour. The initiative was co-founded by Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges, such as eradicating disease and improving education.

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