January 3, 2014
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Rich Acres Elementary School is one of 57 schools being honored by the Virginia Board of Education for raising the academic achievement of economically disadvantaged students.
The awards are based on student performance on Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments during the 2012-2013 and 2011-2012 school years, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).
The board of education recognized two schools as Title I Highly Distinguished schools and 55, including Rich Acres, as Title I Distinguished schools, according to the release. It also recognized two school divisions.
Title I Distinguished schools were recognized for meeting all state and federal accountability requirements for two consecutive years and achieving reading and mathematics SOL pass rates at 60th percentile or higher, the release stated.
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides funding to school divisions and schools for programs to raise the achievement of students identified as being at risk of academic failure. The federal education law, whose most recent reauthorization is known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires schools and school divisions to meet annual objectives for increasing student achievement on statewide assessments in reading/language arts and math.
Henry County Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton said: “I am proud of this accomplishment for the Rich Acres community. This achievement is the result of hard work and dedication on the part of students, parents, staff and the community.”
“If I had to pinpoint what attributed to this success, I would have to say that it is an unwavering culture of high expectations at Rich Acres Elementary,” he said. “All students are expected to achieve at high levels and the teachers and staff at Rich Acres work tirelessly to provide the necessary support to help students succeed.”
Rich Acres Principal Elizabeth Hussey stated in an email: “There is continuity among the entire Rich Acres staff that facilitates collaboration within the school, the division and our community. The immensely dedicated staff are always looking for ways to move our school forward and cultivate relationships, learning and growth.”
She also stated: “Our students are an amazing group of kids with supportive families and strong ties to the community. The support provided to us throughout the division continues to make Rich Acres successful.”
Data VDOE released in September showed that Rich Acres was one of seven schools in the county school division that met all federal objectives for student achievements and outcomes (called annual measurable objectives, or AMO), based on SOL tests given during the 2012-13 school year.
According to the report card for Rich Acres on the VDOE website, the school had a 92 percent pass rate in math for all students tested during the 2012-13 school year (the AMO target was 64 percent), and an 81 percent pass rate in reading (the AMO target was 66 percent). The school also met objectives for all gap groups and subgroups that were large enough to measure.
The report card also showed for state accreditation results, 86 percent of all Rich Acres students tested passed the English SOL tests given in the 2012-13 school year (based on one-year results) and 93 percent passed the English SOL tests given in 2011-12. Ninety-eight percent of all Rich Acres students tested passed the math SOL tests given in 2012-13 and 88 percent passed the math SOL tests given in 2011-12.
Each school and division being recognized will receive a certificate celebrating its status and achievement, according to the release.
“I commend the teachers, principals and other educators in all of these schools for helping students meet the commonwealth’s expectations for grade-level learning in reading and mathematics,” Virginia Board of Education President David M. Foster said in the release.
“Virginia’s new SOL tests — which emphasize the application of content knowledge and critical thinking — set a higher bar, and the students in these schools are better prepared for having met it,” Foster stated.
In March 2013, a total of 151 schools, including Rich Acres, and one school division received 2013 Virginia Index of Performance (VIP) awards for exceeding minimum state and federal accountability standards and achieving goals set by the governor and state board of education.
Also honored were 98 schools — including Rich Acres — which received the Distinguished Achievement Award for meeting the VIP requirements for two consecutive years. In Rich Acres’ case, it was for three years.
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