By Julia Meyerson, Founder and CEO of Vista College Prep

This past week, Vista College Prep was fortunate to be highlighted as part of the A for Arizona Schools of Excellence Tour Day. We were proud to join Phoenix Union’s Bioscience High School and ASU Preparatory Academy as featured schools. This opportunity allowed fellow school leaders and representatives from the community the chance to get a first-hand look at the best practices of several high performing, low income schools in downtown Phoenix closing the achievement gap and setting students up for success.

Vista College Prep’s accomplishments are a result of studying and learning from some of the highest performing schools across the country. These proof point schools have informed our vision, operational systems, and instructional choices. We remain deeply committed to learning from the best, including models of excellence here in Arizona.

We opened in August 2013 to our inaugural class of kindergarten and first grade students, the college graduating classes of 2030 and 2029, respectively. Our whole focus is on the idea that college preparation starts in kindergarten and we are determined to prove that demographics do not determine destiny and that all students can succeed if they are able to receive a quality education.

Just two years later, our third grade scholars took the AZ Merit for the first time, and we could not be more proud of the results:

  • VCP scholars outperformed their peers across Arizona by 56% in literacy and 29% in math.
  • Among schools serving populations with over 90% of students qualifying for Free and Reduced Priced Lunch, VCP scholars scored the highest in the state on the literacy portion of the AZ Merit. 97% of students qualify for free and reduced price lunch.

We are so grateful for the legislative leaders and board members representing the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools and Phoenix Union High School District who could join the tour. Our collaborative work driven by the belief that all children deserve an excellent education is critical to ensuring students in our shared neighborhoods have access to a high quality classroom.

Last week’s Tour Day showcased three diverse school models that are all working to catch students up and equip them with the life skills they need to have endless opportunities. To make an excellent school a viable reality for every child, we must learn from these successful models and invest in them. Because all schools increase their chance of success when they can recruit great teachers and offer high impact programs like full day kindergarten, we also encourage policymakers to increasing base funding alongside results-based funding so all public schools with resource challenges are not forced to do more with less.