By Pat Jenkins
Columbia Crest Elementary School in the Eatonville School District is one of seven schools in Washington that will each receive a $10,000 award for meeting federal standards for their students’ improvement in reading or math.
The schools are being recognized as Title I, Part A Academic Achievement Schools. The distinction is for achieving math or reading Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) in all student sub-groups for the 2011–12 school year and Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in all pupil sub-groups for the school years ending in 2010 and 2011.
AMO and AYP are measurements defined by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with which the U.S. Department of Education determines how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically according to results on standardized tests. Columbia Crest made the grade in reading for three or more years.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said the Title I award honors schools and improvement teams that have significantly raised student achievement in mathematics, reading or both by using strategies that can be used by other schools as models to for the accomplishment.
“Achieving these kinds of results isn’t easy,” Dorn said. “I’m proud of the hard work these schools are doing to make sure that every kid is successful.”
Columbia Crest’s principal, Janna Rush, said her school’s success with reading is “the culmination of lots of hard work with the students over a number of years. They and our teachers have been concentrating on improving and developing their reading skill, and they’re seeing it pay off.”
She noted that the the work in the earliest years of school starts to show results when students start taking state tests.
An example of Columbia Crest’s focus effort is the accelerated reading program in which students pick a book in the school library, read it and take a short test on it. “They’re trying to earn points based on the difficulty of the book,” Rush explained.
The school tries to make reading fun, because “when kids enjoy reading, their schoolwork improves in many subjects,” Rush said. “It makes math and social studies more enjoyable if you read well.”
Columbia Crest has an enrollment of 146 students. “With a school our size, we can pull together our resources and really focus,” Rush said.
The financial award that comes with the Title I honor can be used in several ways to help keep the academic improvement at the school coming. They include:
· Professional development for teachers in an area of expertise, new areas related to their current position, or increased expertise in classroom practices.
· Team-building and teacher planning opportunities for school-reform efforts.
· Development of additional research-based instruction, curriculum and training.
Joining Columbia Crest among Washington’s Title I award winners are elementary schools in the Bainbridge Island, Tumwater, Oakesdale, Pe Ell, Skykomish and Selkirk school districts. All were judged on criteria that included a collaborative instructional team, defined processes that went into improved academics, test scores, and strategies aligned with characteristics of high-performing schools as defined by education officials.