Schools, districts receive recognition, money for achievement

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson is handing out nearly $750,000 in cash awards to 55 schools and 12 districts for making noteworthy academic improvements and helping narrow the achievement gap among their student ethnic groups.

“I am delighted to recognize these Title I schools and districts with a monetary award to acknowledge their efforts to raise the achievement of all their students,” said Bergeson. “They are making important strides in closing the performance gap between white students and their minority peers which is an essential focus of our work in public education.”

The awards are funded through a special set aside of federal Title I money given to states through the No Child Left Behind Act. This is the first time Washington has been given money specifically to honor Title I schools in this way.

Each school will receive $10,000. Districts are receiving an amount based upon the number of Title I schools that helped qualify the district for the honor.

To be eligible, schools must have received Title I funds for the past three years and made “adequate yearly progress” in at least two of the previous three years. Additionally, based on scores from the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, they needed to have substantial reductions in the achievement gap or scored higher than the statewide average in reading, writing or mathematics over a specific period of time in one or more of the ethnic minority groups.

District awards are being given where individual Title I elementary schools have too few students enrolled in each ethnic subgroup to be publicly evaluated. However, when scores from schools were added together at the district level, their performance met the eligibility criteria for the award.

Final consideration for selection included additional information about the eligible schools, such as the size of the academic gains, the number of minority groups making the gains and the number of subjects where gains were made.

While schools and districts have great flexibility in the specific use of their awards, the money must be used in a way that benefits student language arts (reading and writing) and mathematics achievement.