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Beaverton schools' Leap Start Program earns innovation award

by: Christina Lent Emily earns praise after she successfully finds letters to spell her name during the Leap Start Summer Academy at Barnes Elementary School.

Beaverton School District's Leap Start Program was recently awarded an Innovation in Education Award by the Oregon Business Association.

The district received the award for the early learning intervention program Oct. 12 at the annual OBA Statesman Dinner at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

The Leap Start Program is made possible by an ongoing partnership between the Beaverton School District and the Nike School Innovation Fund. In the past five years, the program has benefited more than 1,000 Beaverton kindergarten and first-grade students needing extra academic assistance.

Students who participated in the Leap Start Summer Academy received targeted intervention that enabled them to excel in school and start on track with their peers. Each year, more than 80 percent of students receiving vital remediation in Leap Start met or exceeded key literacy goals and were able to catch up on skills not mastered during their kindergarten year.

Innovative elements of Beaverton's program include partnering with apartment complexes, schools and community centers to provide students with a learning experience close to where they live.

The Nike School Innovation Fund has provided $550,000 to support Leap Start since the program's inception in 2007.

'The Leap Start Program is a model of how educational innovation and support can truly bring lifelong change to at-risk kids,' said OBA President Ryan Deckert. 'We congratulate the Beaverton School District and the Nike School Innovation Fund for their ongoing dedication to setting up the children in the Leap Start Program for academic success throughout their lives.'

'Approximately half of the kindergarten and first-grade children in Beaverton's poorest schools are far behind their peers, both socially and academically,' said Beaverton School Superintendent Jeff Rose. 'The Leap Start Program gives these students the preparation they need to get vital remedial instruction and to get back on track.

"We're grateful to OBA for their recognition of this important program, and to the Nike School Innovation Fund for their incredible support these past five years.'