September is National Hispanic Heritage Month and in 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.  As part of this years celebration the White House has released what it deems “Bright Spots in Hispanic Education,” and has recognized the Corona-Norco Unified School District along with over 230 other schools across the U.S. for their efforts to support Latino educational attainment and excellence.

In commemoration of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ 25th anniversary, the Initiative made a national call for nominations for “Bright Spots” in Hispanic Education with the goal of highlighting the ongoing efforts that are taking place across the country, at the local, state and federal levels, to support Latino educational and to aid in closing the achievement gap.

Bright Spots were recognized based on the following criteria:

  • Target: Is the target audience for the program Hispanic? Are a significant number of students served by this program or model Hispanic? Do the practices in place impact Hispanic students and families?
  • Focus: Does the proposed Bright Spot support key educational priorities: Early Learning, College Access, College Completion, STEM education, Latino Teacher Recruitment?
  • Impact: Has the proposed Bright Spot increased educational outcomes for Hispanic students?
  • Measurable: Does the proposed Bright Spot demonstrate an evidence-based approach? Is the Bright Spot based on data-driven solutions? Are there measurable goals that evaluate the effectiveness of the Bright Spot? Does the proposed Bright Spot have data to prove its success and impact.

By highlighting and uplifting the work of these Bright Spots, the Initiative seeks to spur innovation and encourage collaboration between them and stakeholders focused on similar issues in sharing data-driven approaches, promising practices, peer advice and effective partnerships, resulting in increased support for the educational attainment of the Hispanic community.

The Corona-Norco Unified School District was recognized for their Puente Program, which targets high school students earning Ds and Fs and helps to turn their academic careers and futures around with mentoring, college partnerships, counselor interventions, parent participation and more.

The program was started in 2008 and is offered at Corona High School, Centennial High School, and Eleanor Roosevelt High School; the three schools in the district with the largest Hispanic populations.  Since its beginnings the program has helped more than 4,000 Hispanic students achieve their educational goals.

The district was also recognized for its annual growth in achievement among Hispanic students, especially at the elementary level, which scored in the top 30% of California urban districts.

A full list of schools recognized in the U.S. can be seen on the U.S. Department of Education website.