Highland Park's Annandale Elementary Pegged as 'School for Advanced Studies'

With this distinction, Annandale will be able to enroll students from across the entirety of LAUSD.

Principal Marco Nava took over his post at the Highland Park school in the midst of an academic crisis.

After years of slow and steady improvement, Annandale saw a dramatic drop in its Academic Performance Index (API) score from 791 in the previous year to 753 in the 2008/2009 school year.

During that same time, only four students in the school of about 250 were listed as “gifted and talented" (Gate), a special Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) designation that makes those students eligible for advanced instruction during the school day.

Two years later, Annandale Elementary has been named a School for Advanced Studies by the LAUSD, a distinction that will allow the school to enroll students from across the entire breadth of the district and opens doors to more advanced, challenging instruction for the school’s growing number of Gate students.

As a School For Advanced Studies, Annandale will also receive a block grant that will used to pay for professional development courses, which Nava says will give his staff added tools for teaching gifted and talented students.

As the end of the current school year, Annandale will have 25 students who are listed as gifted and talented, according to Nava.

Nava insists, though, that Annandale’s students didn’t suddenly become brighter;  rather that the school’s administration got better at recognizing the light.

“I think it’s about having that intentionality, about identifying an area we want to improve, identifying those people who want to be a part of that improvement and then good things happen,” he said.

Students earn the Gate tag after first being recognized by a teacher as showing signs of possessing enhanced intellectual or artistic abilities, and then testing into the program.

Given that only those schools which list at least six-percent of their students as gifted and talented can apply to become Schools for Advanced Studies, Nava initiated a school-wide effort to identify as many Gate as students as possible.

Those students who were identified as potentially gifted and talented then received additional one on one instruction from the school’s intervention specialists, Sonia Salgado and Rose Flores.

Nava insists that the special attention being paid to the schools so called Gate students will have a payoff for the entire student body of Annandale.

For starters, Nava said, schools in predominantly Latino neighborhoods tend to be “ethnically isolated.” With the School for Advanced Studies designation, which lasts for three years, Annandale will be able to increase diversity within the school by enrolling students from communities across the district.

Further, Nava said that the professional development that the teachers will be able to undergo will benefit students of all talent levels.

“I really think that the benefits to the whole school are really there. We have the potential to impact all of our students. As our teachers get more professional development, they're going to learn how they teach to the level that each of their students is currently at,” Nava said. “English learners, special education students, students kind of in the middle--the teacher will learn how to cater their teaching to them as well.”

Mandi June 01, 2011 at 11:33 PM
I am excited to say that my son is already currently enrolled in this school. He will be going into the 1st grade this coming year. We are fortunate to have Ms. Salgado as his kindergarten teacher. I appreciate the effort and dedication that Mr. Nava and the teachers and administrative staff have put forth to our children and the school helping in the education of our children. I hope the parents of the students that attend Annandale Elementary understand that it's like gold at our fingertips we need to get our children excited about this and it starts at home.
Shayla June 02, 2011 at 03:17 AM
My child attended Annandale from Kindergarten through 5th grade. He was idenified as potentially gifted in kindergarten. He was officially identified as gifted and placed in the GATE program in 3rd based on his CST scores and teacher recommendations. My son received an excellent education while at Annandale. That prepared him for the gifted/highly gifted magnet program at Eagle Rock HS where he has been a student for 2 years. I am very pleased to see Annandale moving forward in this area because being a gifted/highly gifted magnet program is VERY challenging without the right preparation.
Daniel June 03, 2011 at 05:31 PM
I am both and alumni of Annandale and now a parent of a 5th and 1st grader as well. I am very proud of what the school is doing under the leadership of Mr. Nava and his staff. I look forward to working with him and the school more closely. I am currently organizing a "Friends of Annandale" group. If you are interested in helping, please contact me at daniel.andalon@gmail.com Hope to hear from many of you!
Martine June 08, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Our 2 daughters, who are 11 and 8, have been attending Annandale School for one year and they have been so enthusiastic about this school from the very first day. So have we! We arrived, from France, last summer and even though our girls had been attending bilingual school (French-English) for 4 years, we were afraid they might stay behind. At the contrary, they were both recognized as Gifted students and were allowed to take part in challenging and motivating activities like writing a newspaper for the school, some robotics classes… Beyond the classes for the so-called “gifted” kids, their respective teachers are just amazing, and have been helping them all year round to catch up with the programs (The French kids are less advanced in math than the American!). And the principal, M. Nava, is such a good leader. He knows how to deal with kids (he knows every student), their parents and his staff. He’s just passionate about education and is convinced that families and schools must work together to educate our kids. He’s ambitious for Annandale and that’s how our school is today recognized as a school for Advanced Studies.
Alexander Perez June 04, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Proud of my little school! AP - Class of 1981


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