February 15, 2012
By Bailie Myers| Ranger Reporter
Amarillo College officially became the first postsecondary school in the nation to be named a No Excuses campus earlier this semester.
The No Excuses concept was developed by Damen Lopez, a former teacher and principal, at a California elementary school in 2004 in an attempt to better prepare students to succeed in college.
The No Excuses initiative has spread to elementary schools, middle schools and high schools nationwide and now, with AC as the pioneer school, to community colleges.
AC’s goals for the spring semester inspired by the initiative include expanding tutoring services, redesigning courses to include more technology, a focus on building social support through a poverty initiative and development of a first-year seminar to give students career and college readiness skills.
Ten schools in the Amarillo Independent School District have joined No Excuses, including San Jacinto Elementary and Tascosa High School. According to Lopez’s website, www.turningaroundschool.com, there are 114 No Excuses University schools in 19 states, representing more than 70,000 students.
Jill Gibson, an assistant professor of speech and mass communication, said the No Excuses initiative is a multi-tier approach to helping students succeed while they are at AC.
‘”You can make it in college. We can help you,” Gibson said.
“We are going to work hand-in-hand with Damen Lopez to create the template for No Excuses Universities,” said Dr. Lana Jackson, director of quality enhancement, plan assessment and development. “We are walking a path that no one has gone before.”
According to the book Turn Around Schools by Lopez and Jeff King, the key strategy for closing the achievement gap is creating six core systems that are central and can work for any school.
The six-core system includes interventions, data management, an assessment plan, standards alignment, teacher collaboration and a culture of universal achievement.
The No Excuses initiative already has affected students.
‘’My math teacher has started using a new program that helps us stay active and participate in class,” said Jared Bull, a biotechnology major.
To learn more about No Excuses, visit turnaroundschools.com/neu-network.