4 Nebraska Schools Earn National Awards as State’s First Demonstration Schools for Rigor

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Contact: Taylor Barahona, Learning Sciences International
Phone: (561) 421-1786
E-mail: [email protected]

WHO Nebraska’s first Demonstration Schools for Rigor
WHAT National recognition for growth, innovation, and commitment to student learning outcomes
WHERE https://bit.ly/2TBSJZG


West Palm Beach, FL – Oct. 29, 2020 – Four schools in the Grand Island Public Schools district received national recognition as the first and only Demonstration Schools for Rigor in Nebraska: Stolley Park Elementary School, Starr Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, and Walnut Middle School (read Walnut’s case study here).

The designation “Demonstration School for Rigor” recognizes that the schools serve as an outstanding example of growth, innovation, and commitment to student learning outcomes. The schools began their Schools for Rigor journey with Learning Sciences International (LSI) in 2017, volunteering to become Demonstration Schools for Rigor that other schools in the district would be able to learn from.

Schools for Rigor is a school improvement model focused on giving every student access to rigorous standards-based instruction that builds academic, social, and emotional skills.

Grand Island Public Schools district and building leaders received expert coaching to help them shape and implement an instructional vision and use research-based metrics to monitor their progress.

Teachers participated in professional learning on Academic Teaming, a daily instructional process where students are empowered to take ownership of their own and their peers’ learning through a student accountability system and structures for peer support.

Over the past three years, all four schools have shown considerable growth and sustained progress toward their instructional vision. The Demonstration Schools in Grand Island Public Schools have served as laboratories of student-centered learning, sharing their innovations with other educators from across the state. The schools have received many visitors who came to observe their classrooms in action and learn best practices to bring back to their own schools.

Nebraska TV and KSNB 4 TV covered the awards ceremony to celebrate the Demonstration Schools’ national recognition for excellence.

During the ceremony, Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover called the Demonstration Schools “a beacon of light to equity and access for all of our students.” She went on to praise their focus on rigorous core instruction, saying, “the instructional core is the greatest lever for ensuring our mission: Every Student, Every Day, A Success!”

Michael Toth, CEO of Learning Sciences International, also spoke during the ceremony. Toth personally visited the schools before they became Demonstration Schools for Rigor and visited again to see the transformation for himself.

Toth says, “It’s been amazing watching the classroom environments change in these schools as students became more confident and engaged learners. The principals at all four schools have faced challenges – especially during the pandemic – but they’ve led the Schools for Rigor process like heroes. We’re proud to partner with a district that is full of heroes, from Dr. Grover to Dr. Palmer and everyone at the district to all the principals and their school teams. Grand Island Public Schools always puts student learning first.” Toth also shared photos and a video clip from the event on Twitter.


Since its founding in 1999, LSI has empowered thousands of K-12 educators to empower their students by developing every students’ capacity to take on greater responsibilities for their own learning and function at the highest levels possible. We do this through the guiding principles of LSI’s Applied Research Center with approaches that are always measurable, replicable, and reliable. Every activity, strategy, and intervention has attained or is in the process of attaining criteria for evidence-based practices under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) at Levels II or III. This is why our school and district partners regularly achieve sustainable and long-lasting results.

Learn more about LSI’s work with districts like Grand Island Public Schools: https://bit.ly/2TBSJZG

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