ASCD Honors Malcolm Price Laboratory School, Winner of ASCD's First Vision in Action: Whole Child Award
San Antonio, TX (03/07/10)—The University of Northern Iowa’s Malcolm Price Laboratory School (PLS) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, is the winner of ASCD's first-ever Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. ASCD honored Price Laboratory School today at its Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in San Antonio, Tex. The award recognizes schools that move beyond a narrow focus on academic achievement to take action for the whole child, creating learners who are knowledgeable, emotionally and physically healthy, civically active, artistically engaged, prepared for economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond formal schooling.
PLS, a prekindergarten through 12th grade public school with a diverse population of 369 students, is located on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). As part of UNI's College of Education, the school is a setting for clinical teacher education and research at the prekindergarten through high school levels and conducts professional development for its own faculty and for faculty at schools across the state. The state has passed legislation allowing the Iowa Department of Education and UNI to develop Iowa's first statewide Research and Development school at PLS.
"We are honored, humbled, and thrilled to be named ASCD's first Vision in Action award winner," says Bridgette Wagoner, interim director of Price Laboratory School. "Price Lab's success can be attributed to our relentless focus on providing students with a challenging and relevant curriculum in a safe and trusting environment that feels like a family. Our committed teachers really care about our kids, and our kids really care about each other."
PLS was selected as ASCD's first Vision in Action award winner because it has taken specific steps to ensure that students at every level—from preschoolers to high school juniors and seniors—are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged:
- Healthy. All K–10 students at Price Laboratory School participate in daily physical education classes and a weekly health program that ultimately prepares juniors and seniors for a Healthy Active Lifestyles course that empowers them to take responsibility for their own health and fitness via real-world experiences. The school also recently launched a new breakfast and lunch program called the Grassroots Café that provides students with fresh, organic foods from local farms. The program, which features made-from-scratch meals, has drastically cut down on the amount of processed foods and trans fats served to students.
- Safe. PLS's comprehensive school counseling program has created a physically and emotionally safe environment for its students with an emphasis on character education. Students are deliberately taught about their right to be who they are and their responsibility to respect others. The school's counselors have instituted a bully prevention program—Be a Buddy, Not a Bully!—for its elementary students that has been adopted by schools worldwide.
- Engaged. Price Laboratory School recently began engaging its students through project-based learning that allows them to focus on topics of their choosing. During the January term, 11th grade projects included hosting a radio talk show, participating in service learning, investigating string theory, and job shadowing. The school's 8th graders worked in small groups on an empathy project to develop films on a variety of tough issues such as the danger of gossip, cyber bullying, and using slurs. The films raised awareness, engendered empathy, and called viewers to action. In May, all K–12 students will participate in this type of learning.
- Supported. All 6–12 students at PLS participate in cooperative advisory groups that meet daily at the middle school level and at least twice a month at the high school level. Advisors function as "school parents" who advocate for and mentor their assigned students.
- Challenged. Every child at PLS participates in a college preparatory curriculum and is held to the highest expectations. To prepare students for postsecondary success, the school's Juniors/Seniors Options Program provides students with multiple pathways and flexible scheduling so they can personalize their curriculum and plan for the future. Some of the options students can choose from are dual enrollment university courses, individualized study, internships with local businesses, cadet teaching, and senior projects.
PLS has taken a coordinated and cohesive approach to implementing these whole child practices, ensuring that they connect to the school’s broader improvement and planning framework and are sustainable despite potential changes in funding and personnel. The school has also engaged a variety of stakeholders, including students and adults from within the school and university and from the local community.
ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter says, "ASCD has long been committed to the development of the whole child and is ready to move from sharing a vision to inspiring action. We commend Price Laboratory School for delivering on its vision by taking tangible steps that result in learners who are civically active, prepared for economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond formal schooling."
PLS is seeing the results of its comprehensive, coordinated whole child approach. It has a perfect graduation rate, and 97 percent of its graduates enroll in two- or four-year colleges. Its students rank second in the state for college freshmen grades earned in the most advanced courses. When compared to high school graduates from other Iowa schools, graduates from Price Laboratory School rank among the top 10 percent for overall GPA for college freshmen courses.
ASCD, a nonprofit, worldwide education organization, began its Whole Child Initiative three years ago to encourage schools and communities to work together to ensure that each student has access to a challenging curriculum in a healthy and supportive climate. ASCD invited a select group of schools to apply for the first Vision in Action: Whole Child Award this year. As the winner, five team members from PLS received an all-expenses-paid trip to ASCD’s Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, and were featured on ASCD's Whole Child Podcast. ASCD will continue to share Price Laboratory School's expertise and exemplary practices with its 170,000 members and the larger education community.
The 2010 Vision in Action: Whole Child Award finalists are Batesville Intermediate School in Batesville, Indiana, and Sunnyslope Elementary School in Pt. Orchard, Washington.
- Barbara Michelman, communications director, 1-703-575-5764 or by e-mail
- Melissa McCabe, communications specialist, 1-703-575-5637 or by e-mail