Bush Administration honors Woodward

More than 600 Woodward Middle School students rose to their feet to cheer yesterday, when a U.S. Department of Education official said it is the only middle school in Washington State – and one of just 29 nationwide – to receive a Blue Ribbon award for excellence this year.

The award recognizes the students’ outstanding scores on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning standardized test – a benchmark of the progress the school has made under the No Child Left Behind, the congressional act that requires increased accountability from all elementary and secondary schools that receive federal Title I funds.

Under No Child Left Behind, schools must meet “Adequate Yearly Progress” in reading/language arts and mathematics. Each state sets its own academic standards.

“This middle school has consistently been in the top tier in Washington State and around the country,” said Eric Earling, representing the U.S. Department of Education.

Highlighting such achievements makes the school a showcase of strategies for student achievement that work, Earling said, an example intended to point the way for other schools.

The school’s 630 seventh and eighth graders are grouped into small “learning communities” taught by interdisciplinary teaching teams. Fifty percent of Woodward Middle School teachers have taught for more than 12 years, and 61 percent hold a master’s degree or Ph.D., according to the school district.

Woodward was one of only five schools honored statewide, out of eight nominated by the state Office of Super­in­tendent of Public Instruction. The list of winners also included Franklin Elementary School in Spokane; Marvista Elementary in Highline; the K-12 site in Pateros; and Bellevue’s International School, a grade 6-12 program.

This year, 250 schools nationwide have received an award, which goes to those that meet one of three criteria: at least 40 percent of the student body come from disadvantaged backgrounds and show dramatic improvement; private schools that achieve in the top 10 percent of the nation; or schools where students score in the top 10 percent in the state. Woodward qualified in the third category.

“We are very honored and very pleased at this recognition of Woodward Middle School’s outstanding work in the area of student achievement,” Deputy Superintendent Faith Chapel said. “It’s a real acknowledgment of (everyone’s) hard work.”

Bainbridge Superintendent of Schools Ken Crawford, who is still recovering from a serious illness, made a rare appearance to attend the awards ceremony.

“First of all, I’m extremely proud,” Crawford said. “It reflects so very favorably on our staff, on our students, on our parents, on our community. This is just a remarkable, wonderful recognition for this school.”

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