Abington School District, Pennsylvania

Four time 100 Best winner Abington has demonstrated significant strides by closing the achievement gap with minority, economically disadvantaged, and special education students. A recent major initiative has been to increase parental/community involvement since research shows that parent involvement helps increase achievement and further reduces dropouts. The Abington Community Taskforce coalition of organizations and agencies that serve youth and families continues to create new initiatives and programs to meet the ongoing challenges that face young people.

The Abington Police Department, despite the elimination of state and federal funding to support the DARE program, reworked its budget to ensure the program is fully funded this year. The Abington Community Taskforce and the Abington Educational Foundation joined efforts in the first "Abington Community Celebration" to raise over $100,000 to fund youth- oriented activities from community organizations such as union groups, businesses, and individuals. The Abington YMCA reached and exceeded its goal for its "Strong Kids Campaign" that provides help for needy families to access the YMCA childcare and camp programs. The Police Athletic League annually enjoys the broad support of area restaurants and the community with its food festival and silent auction.

Formed to address the challenges of drugs, alcohol, and violence among youth, the Abington Community Taskforce is a coalition of community-based organizations delivering programs and services for youth and families. Recognized by the Communities That Care (CTC), ACT continues to thrive through sustained commitment. ACT organizations form collaborative partnerships to provide special programs; for example, Abington Memorial Hospital has worked with the Abington School District to provide a $6 million technology grant, implement smoking cessation programs, and initiate a health-centered Explorers Program for junior high school students.

Another example of a successful collaboration on health and wellness was the community’s response to the potential H1N1 pandemic this year. This threat was proactively addressed in the Abington community in a manner that resulted in statewide recognition. When the vaccines became available the Abington School District’s Pupil Services Department worked closely with the Montgomery County Department of Health to provide vaccines to the entire community. This initiative included parochial and independent schools in addition to the public schools and the vaccine was also made available to children and families who reside in the community, but attend independent schools outside of Abington and Rockledge.

Through strategic cost controls, the junior and senior high schools will add a world language course in Mandarin Chinese beginning in 2010-2011 and hired one of only six certified Mandarin teachers in Pennsylvania. The dual enrollment program with Penn State offers exciting college level courses to an increasing number of high school students. All elementary schools have exceeded all Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals since No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was implemented; 87 percent of students proficient or advanced in reading and 85 percent in mathematics. Abington’s graduating classes earn upwards of over $5 million in scholarships; typically 90 percent pursue higher education.