Local schools given ‘Reward School’ title

Forty-nine schools across the state, including three from the southern Kenai Peninsula, have been recognized as “2013 Reward Schools” by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, the department announced in an Oct. 22 press release. The recognition is a way to honor student achievement for the 2012-2013 school year.

“It is a pleasure to announce Alaska’s Reward Schools for 2013, an achievement shared by their families and educators,” said Mike Hanley, the department commissioner. “Reward Schools strive to meet the academic needs of all students, however large or small the school is. They support students’ progress toward the goals of proficiency and graduation. We congratulate them.”

Paul Banks Elementary School, with grades K-2, and West Homer Elementary School, with students in grades 3-6, were among the 21 listed at “highest performing” schools. To qualify, the school must be in the top 10 percent of schools in its grade span based on its score under the Alaska School Performance Index. Each school also must have met its goal for increasing the percentage of students who are proficient in reading, writing and math for the student body as a whole and all subgroups of students. Schools with 12th graders must average at least an 85 percent graduation rate over the two most recent years.    

McNeil Canyon and West Homer were among the 37 noted for “high progress.” To qualify for that distinction, a school must be in the highest 10 percent of all schools in a growth and proficiency index, it must have an average of at lest 95 in the growth and proficiency index over the last three years for all students; have an average growth and proficiency index score of at least 90 in the most recent year for subgroups Alaska Native/American Indian students, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, and English language learners if the school has at least five students in each subgroup. For schools with 12th grades, the graduation rate requirement is the same as for “highest performing” schools.

The Reward Schools designation is part of Alaska’s new school accountability system. Under a waiver of the No Child Left Behind Act, Alaska replaced the former system of Adequate Yearly Progress with a state system that identifies schools most in need of support and recognizes schools that are improving student learning.