Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA), with campuses in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine, has once again proven that it is the top-performing Minnesota school serving students in poverty, among the nation's best in closing the achievement gap
The results of the recently released state MCA-II tests confirm TiZA's lofty status, as does the recognition TiZA received from the Northwest Evaluation Association for achieving the highest academic growth of any school in the nation.
TiZA serves students from more than 20 countries, 80 percent of whom are from low-income families and 79 percent of whom are learning English. Students come from all over the metro area, some riding the bus more than an hour. On the two campuses combined, despite the challenges of poverty and learning English, 72 percent of students scored proficient in reading and 95 percent scored proficient in math, often bettering more-affluent suburban public schools.
Equally impressive are TiZA's efforts to team with other schools to improve academic performance. Last year, with a $375,000 federal dissemination grant, TiZA's academic team led by Asad Zaman and Wendy Swanson-Choi (former executive director of the highly successful Nova Classical Academy) has started to work with five other schools serving inner-city students to implement TiZA's learning strategies. Four of these five schools posted some of the biggest gains over 2009 (reported on July 1 in the Star Tribune) among all public schools in the state.
We are aware of the controversies that have dogged TiZA. However, it is our hope, for the sake of its 500 students and its positive impact elsewhere, that any outstanding issues can be resolved.