The University of Texas-Pan American will honor nine Rio Grande Valley schools Thursday, April 3 for being recognized by the state's top education reform leaders - the Texas Business and Education Coalition (TBEC) and Just for the Kids Program (JFTK) - as being the best of the best.
Dr. John Edwards, the vice president for Enrollment and Student Services at UTPA and host for the "Evening of Excellence," credits the University's partnership with area schools for contributing to their success.
"It is an ongoing partnership in which they send us students - who are much better prepared than in the past - and we provide many teachers, whom we believe to be well prepared for these school districts," Edwards explained. "It is a privilege to be able to recognize this high level of achievement for Valley schools."
In order to make the prestigious TBEC/JFTK Honor Roll, schools have to meet rigorous criteria over a three-year period that includes high performance on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills tests. Only schools rated Exemplary or Recognized under the state's accountability system can even qualify for consideration.
According to TBEC Executive Director John Stevens, "they must be making impressive strides toward excellence."
Those strides must come despite possible obstacles.
"Many of these schools have had to overcome low income or limited English proficiency challenges in order to give their students a quality education," Edwards explained.
Among those outstanding Valley schools named to the Honor Roll, Canterbury Elementary of Edinburg, Downs Elementary of San Benito, Dr. R.E. Margo Elementary of Weslaco and Leal Elementary, Marcell Elementary and Mims Elementary all from Mission.
In the higher education bracket, Stell Middle School and Lopez High School of Brownsville also made the all-state list along with McAllen Memorial High School.
"This is the first time high schools were named to the Honor List. Only a handful were chosen and two of those are from the Valley. That's a real honor," said Susan Miller the director of High School to University Services at UTPA.
In all 42 Texas elementary schools, 12 middle schools and nine high schools were named to the TBEC/JFTK Honor Roll for 2002.