To understand school quality, each year CHILDREN AT RISK (C@R) ranks and grades schools across Texas. C@R celebrates schools that rise beyond expectations and excel academically. Gold Ribbon Schools are an example of these campuses that outperform their peers. More than 75% of a Gold Ribbon School campus’ students are low-income and they receive an A or a B in C@R’s annual school rankings.

For many years, Gold Ribbon Schools have been nonexistent or rare. However, poverty is not an excuse for low-performing schools; the rise in Gold Ribbon Schools across the state is proof. In order to better understand what makes these schools successful, C@R interviewed Principals of Gold Ribbon Schools across five school districts in the Greater Houston Area. From these conversations, C@R identified common themes and practices that can be easily adopted by campuses and concrete practices that parents can advocate for. A blueprint of best practices for other campuses, these recommendations may help lead to improved academic performance.