Elmer Wood Elementary is the only school in Merced County honored as one of the state's "Distinguished Schools" this year for using data-driven instruction and intervention techniques to improve student achievement.
The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Monday that 287 elementary schools were honored and recognized for their "outstanding educational programs and practices that help California students realize their potential, and put them on the path to achieve their dreams."
Elmer Wood last won the designation since 2008.
Elmer Wood's program, called the "Collaborative Data Driven Instruction and Targeted Intervention Model," has been an ongoing process since Spring of 2015, when the school's staff learned that their students tested below similar schools in the first CAASPP test scores.
The school's program focuses on high quality instruction, Principal Kelli Parreira said, along with daily data analysis of what lessons jive with students, and which students need more help.
For example, after a daily lesson on fractions, a teacher will quiz how students understood the lesson, Parreira said. Based on his or her analysis, the teacher will then decide which students need additional instruction, and which may need more challenging problems.
Interventions such as the "Power Hour" for students between first and third grades that offers dedicated aid with three instructional assistants, "Read180" program for students at-risk in ELA, and "Intervention Camps" have helped the school target students who are nearly meeting or not meeting state standards, according to the school's state application.
State testing records indicate last year's overall tests scores revealed that of students tested, 4.71 percent more met or exceeded state English and language arts standards in 2017 compared to 2016. In math, 6.64 percent more students met or exceeded standards.
Atwater Elementary School District Superintendent Sandra Schiber also credited the school's success to ongoing professional development for teachers and administrators.
"It's been a continued growth model for us," Principal Kelli Parreira said. "The program just continues to evolve."
In addition to the school being awarded for its own program, the Atwater Elementary School District has been recognized as an "Exemplary School District" by the state, in part because of Elmer Wood Elementary's designation.
Schiber said she was proud of the parents, students, support staff, administration and teachers in the district, noting that they all played key roles in the success of the school.