Friday Harbor, Lopez, Orcas schools honored for 'excellence' by state board and superintendent

Schools that profoundly affect student learning are being awarded for their efforts.

A total of 174 schools are receiving Washington Achievement Awards for 2009 — among them, Friday Harbor High School, Lopez Middle and High School, Orcas Middle School and Orcas High School.

The announcement was made Monday at a meeting of the Washington State Board of Education. The awards are being given by the state board and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“We’re proud of these schools,” state Superintendent Randy Dorn said. “They’re showing that great gains can be made for all students.”

The schools will be recognized at celebrations around the state on May 5.

Friday Harbor High School Principal Fred Woods said the honor is "an appreciated pat on the back."

"It is one of those awards that you are proud of because we do believe that this is a quality school," Woods said.

"Even well before I was here, there were some great strides taken to improve the school, and I give respect to those in my position and to the teachers who work to make this school great."

The awards are part of the State Board’s accountability program, adopted in 2009. Under the program, all schools will be indexed according to outcomes and indicators from 2007-09. The five outcomes are student performance in statewide reading, writing, math and science tests, as well as the school’s extended graduation rate, which includes those students who took longer than four years to graduate.

Those outcomes are each measured using four indicators:

1. achievement of students who are not from low-income families;
2. achievement of students from low-income families;
3. achievement of all students when compared to “peers” (those with similar student characteristics, such as the percentage of students who have a disability, are learning English, are designated as gifted, come from low-income families, and are mobile); and
4. improvement in the achievement of all students from the previous year.

The average of the resulting 20 measures comprises the overall index.

“The index will be instrumental in helping schools and districts craft data-driven school improvement plans,” said Edie Harding, State Board executive director. “It gives us a better way to track schools in the future and to pinpoint exactly where they are doing well and where they need additional help.”

Schools are being recognized for being top performers in six categories:

1. Overall Excellence
2. Language arts
3. Math
4. Science
5. Extended graduation rate (only awarded to high and comprehensive schools)
6. Gifted education

In the future, awards will be given to schools closing the achievement gap.

Friday Harbor High School will receive an award for Overall Excellence.

Lopez Middle and High School will receive an award for Extended Graduation Rate.

Orcas Middle School will receive an award for Overall Excellence.

Orcas High School will receive awards for Overall Excellence and Extended Graduation Rate.

All told, 70 elementary, 26 middle, 52 high schools and 26 comprehensive schools will receive awards this year.

“While No Child Left Behind tells us only how we’re not making the grade, the accountability index tells us where we are,” Dorn said. “We know we’re (doing) great work in this state. Teachers, administrators, classified employees – they’re all hard-working people who have a positive impact on our students.”

The accountability system was adopted by the passage of Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6696 in the 2009 legislative session.

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