Updated: White River High School, Black Diamond Elementary Among 2012 State Schools of Distinction

Ninety-seven Washington State schools were recognized last week for outstanding improvement in student achievement over the course of five years.

White River High School and Black Diamond Elementary in the Enumclaw School District were recognized last week with the 2012 School of Distinction Award for outstanding improvement in student achievement over the last five years.

White River Schools Superintendent Janel Keating wrote to staff upon announcing the good news Tuesday, "I'm very proud of the efforts of the students and staff at White River High School. This award represents continuous improvement. I'm also very proud of every staff member in this district that touched the lives of the students at the high school. Each of your contributions made a difference. Each of you are a link to graduation. A link to our kids being college and career ready. Thank you!"

Black Diamond Principal Gerrie Garton said, "our school, staff, students and families have been on a journey the past five years.  We have been working toward improving all academic areas and will continue to work toward this each day.  It is not about an award it is about doing the best each and every day for our students.”   

Enumclaw Schools Superintendent Mike Nelson expressed his appreciation for the effort that went into this wonderful achievement.  “I am so very proud and happy for the students, staff, parents and community of Black Diamond Elementary. Their laser-like focus on meeting the learning needs of each and every student is truly amazing!”

This is the fourth school to be recognized for success in student achievement gains in the Enumclaw School District in recent years: Enumclaw Middle School in 2011 and Southwood Elementary in 2008 and 2009.  Just this fall, Sunrise Elementary was recognized as a Title I reward school in the State of Washington.

According to a press release from the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE), a total of 97 schools in the state were given the award this year. Winners include 54 elementary schools, 24 middle/junior high schools and 19 high schools.

“These schools represent the top 5 percent of improvement of all schools in Washington state,” noted Greg Lobdell, CEE President.

Mike Dunn, Superintendent of the Spokane Educational Service District who also leads this recognition work for the Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD) Superintendents said, “The success and hard work of these highest improving schools across our state needs to be celebrated and shared in order to support improvement efforts across Washington and make this difference for all students. This is a testament to the staff, students, leaders, and communities serving these students”.

The winning schools were selected based on criteria outlined below:

  • Three grade bands are used for calculation: grades 3, 4, and 5 for elementary schools, grades 6, 7 and 8 for middle or junior high schools, and grade 10 for high schools. A school must have data in two of three grades to be considered for that band. Data source is the OSPI reported data from the data downloads section of the state report card: http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/DataDownload.aspx
  • For grades 3 to 8, the 2012 performance is defined as the “Reading/Math Level Index” and must meet the minimum threshold: at or above the state median for the grade band. For 10th grade, OSPI is no longer publically reporting the Reading/Math level index results. CEE used High School Proficiency Exam for Reading and combined End-of-Course Math results (including students who passed the exam as 9th graders in 2011) to obtain a valid measure for 2012 10th grade performance.
  • The performance measure is calculated using the Measures of Student Progress (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade) and for 10th grade, the High School Proficiency Exam in Reading and the End-of-Course exams in Math.
  • Using data from 2007 through 2012 provides six data points which identify five improvement steps.
  • A school may be considered in multiple bands, e.g. a K-8 school would be eligible in both elementary and middle/junior high bands. Alternative learning environments are considered independently in each of the 3 grade bands (subject to the same minimum performance threshold as all schools in the grade band).
  • A school must have data in at least three of six years to be considered, one of which must be 2012.
  • "Improvement" is defined as the slope of linear trend over the five years.
  • The number of schools comprising 5 percent is based on the number of schools at each grade band with valid 2012 data.

This year marks the sixth annual School of Distinction award recognition in Washington State. The awards are presented from The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE), the Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD), the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP), Phi Delta Kappa-Washington Chapter (PDK-WA), Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), Washington State ASCD and Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA).


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