Title I awards commend schools for big strides made by poor kids

05/06/2014 12:55 PM

05/06/2014 11:16 PM

Elementary schools in Merced, Winton, Ceres, Columbia and Copperopolis are among the 106 statewide receiving the 2013-14 Title I Academic Achievement Award.

Taking a bow are Luther Burbank Elementary in Merced, Frank Sparkes Elementary in Winton, Sinclear Elementary in Ceres, Columbia Elementary and Copperopolis Elementary in the Mark Twain Union Elementary District. Sinclear also was named a California Distinguished School last week.

“I am proud of what these schools have accomplished under often challenging circumstances,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in announcing the federal awards Monday. “Their administrators and teachers are committed to giving their students every opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills that will help them in school and throughout their lives.”

The Title I Academic Achievement Award is given to schools receiving federal Title I funds to help low-income children. Of approximately 10,000 schools in California, more than 6,000 participate in the Title I program.

To receive this distinction, the school must demonstrate that all students are making good progress toward grade-level proficiency gauged by rising state test scores. The school’s low-income students must do especially well, making at least twice the progress sought in standard improvement targets, and they must do it for two years running.

Jerod Garst, principal at Luther Burbank Elementary, said this is the first time the school has received this recognition and he’s proud of the work being done.

“We’re pretty excited about this,” Garst said, “and I think everyone deserves credit because it’s a team effort. We hold our students accountable for putting in the work; the teachers are taking the time to help students grow and the parents are being supportive.”

Similarly, Prinicipal Kim Cuthriell of Frank Sparkes Elementary said she was pleased when she learned about Sparkes’ award.

“We’re honored to have been selected,” Cuthriell said. “I think a big part of this is due to the hard work that our teachers do to bring students to high achievement. They’re the ones who put in the extra work to make learning as engaging and exciting as possible for the children.”

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