Washington Elementary named Student Success Champion by Department of Education
The Oregon Department of Education on Tuesday announced that Washington Elementary School has been named as a 2012 Celebrating Student Success Champion for its efforts in working towards closing the achievement gap. Washington Elementary is one of just seven schools in the state – and the only one not on the I-5 corridor – to receive the prestigious honor.
“This is very exciting for our school and for Pendleton,” said Washington Elementary School Principal Curt Thompson. “Our staff has worked extremely hard over the past several years to improve student success in math and reading, and it’s very rewarding to have those efforts recognized in such a public way.”
The Celebrating Student Success award program, now in its eighth year, recognizes high poverty and/or minority schools that have made significant progress in closing the academic achievement gap that so often separates traditionally underserved students from their peers. Schools are selected based on a comprehensive review of student achievement data, evidence of significant gains by historically underserved student subgroups (i.e., minority groups, students with limited English, special education students, etc.), and review of a narrative application by a Blue Ribbon Panel of educators, education stakeholders, and community members from across the state.
“The Pendleton School District is proud of the outstanding achievement both staff and students at Washington have demonstrated,” said Pendleton School District Superintendent Jon Peterson. “While we in our District and community know of the great successes our schools have throughout the year, it’s great to see Pendleton recognized at a statewide level.”
For its efforts, Washington Elementary will receive a $3,000 unrestricted cash grant award and a trophy. The school will also be recognized on the ODE web site and in an Oregonian advertisement that will run statewide on Sunday (April 15). The school also will be highlighted in a brochure that will be shared with educators around the state as a school demonstrating best practices.
“This year’s winners … share a common commitment to using data to drive their decision making, engaging parents and communities as active partners, and providing strong, shared leadership and a focus on high quality instruction,” said Susan Castillo, Oregon’s superintendent of public instruction.
Washington Elementary currently serves 385 students with 18 certified and 13 classified staff. Nearly 45 percent of students are Native American, 4 percent are Hispanic, 2 percent are African-American, and the remainder are Caucasian, Students qualifying for free and reduced lunch make up nearly 71 percent of the school’s population; however, all students receive free breakfast as a qualifying Title I school. Special education students makes up just over 20 percent of the school’s population.
Thompson said he believes the process of school improvement is a continuous cycle of assessing where students are academically, where they need to be, and then using research-based strategies to improve student performance. For example, in the 2003-2004 school year, less than 5 percent of special education students met benchmarks in reading and 23 percent in math. By the 2010-2011 school year, 69.7 percent met in reading and 57.6 percent in math.
Thompson attributes much of his school’s success to teamwork and providing a positive environment for students. He also said addressing deficiencies in curriculum and ensuring all special education students receive the same 90-minute grade-level core instruction that other students receive has contributed to the success of this group of students. This year, Washington added a school-wide math skills block intended to provide teachers with dedicated time to provide enrichment for students already at benchmark and interventions for students struggling with a particular concept.
“Our staff has done an outstanding job of making adjustments and working together to make sure our resources and skills are put to use in the most effective ways to help our students achieve,” Thompson said.
Other schools recognized as Celebrating Student Success Champions include:
• Atkinson Elementary School, Portland Public Schools
• El Puente Bilingual Elementary School, North Clackamas School District
• Franklin High School, Portland Public Schools
• Lincoln Elementary School, Corvallis School District
• Lincoln Elementary School, Grants Pass School District
• Templeton Elementary School, Tigard-Tualatin School District
For more information on the Celebrating Student Success Awards, please visit www.ode.state.or.us.