West Valley School District Honored for Being Named AASA Lighthouse Demonstration System


James Minichello

District to Serve as National Model to Help Transform Education

Alexandria, Va. and Yakima, Wash. – Aug. 23, 2022 – For the bold and actionable steps it’s taking to create positive change in public education, West Valley School District 208 in Yakima, Wash.,  is being honored today by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, as an AASA Lighthouse Demonstration System.

Announced this spring, WVSD is one of 12 districts to receive this designation. The district’s educational system focuses on early learning and providing high quality early learning experiences for all children to prepare them for success in their K-12 educational journey and life.

“The West Valley School District leads a system within our community to focus on early learning,” said Peter Finch, superintendent, WVSD. “This system—the West Valley PreK Initiative—uses multiple strategies to ensure a seamless alignment of curriculum, instruction, assessment and family engagement with our early learning community partners and the district’s PreK-through-third grade efforts.”

The selected designates are members of the AASA’s Learning 2025 Network, a cadre of more than 120 demonstration systems representing forward-leaning, urban, suburban and rural school districts engaged in learning, networking and working together to help drive education policy and ultimately improve student learning.

“On behalf of learner-centered, equity-focused and future-driven school districts across the country, it is with great pleasure to congratulate the West Valley School District for serving as a model for other school systems throughout Washington as well as the rest of the country,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “The West Valley community was chosen as a beacon of light in holistic redesign of American education.”

Indicators of accelerated early learning strategies at WVSD include: 

  • The system includes early learning goals in its strategic plan and school improvement plans, with metrics for monitoring during the school year.
  • Plan to support early learning programs serve to support providers and connect the school district to early learning providers.
  • Early learning standards are part of the over district curriculum plan and are closely articulated in the K-12 system.
  • Professional learning is provided for all programs, public and/or private that supports quality and continuous improvement. 

WVSD is a member of AASA’s Early Learning Cohort, a community of learners that brings educational leaders from across the country together to review emerging research, discover early learning best practices and plan to facilitate change. WVSD served as host district for the AASA 2022 Early Learning Spring meeting. Click here to view a video capturing highlights from the meeting. Click here to view the WVSD case study on early learning.

Educators are encouraged to access An American Imperative: A New Vision of Public Schools, prepared and issued by the AASA National Commission on Student-Centered, Equity-Focused Education in 2021. The report articulates AASA’s vision, which is intended to serve as a guardrail for specific change, while also empowering districts and schools to tailor plans to the needs of their leaders and learners.

For additional information, contact Mort Sherman, senior associate executive director, AASA, at msherman@aasa.org, or Valerie Truesdale, AASA assistant executive director, at vtruesdale@aasa.org.

To join the conversation via Twitter, please access #Learning2025.


About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.