Lamar Elementary gets another ´┐Żdistinguished school´┐Ż honor

Ninth time in 10 years for award

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Lamar Elementary Schoool continues to receive top honors from Texas Education Agency "for consistently strong academic performance while educating large populations of impoverished students during the three previous school  years."

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Lamar Elementary School students and staff proudly show off the school's Distinguished Performance Award for outstanding academic excellence. Pictured left to right are: (front) 4th graders Samuel Gallegos, Jasmine Thomas, Chandler Silman, Tino Zapata and Hannah Mattison; (middle) Matthew Cochran, Alex Riels and Lesly Ortiz; (back) teacher Laura Wilcher, principal Rowena Johnson and teacher Vicki Newsom.

This year marks the second consecutive year, and the ninth of the last 10 years, in which TEA has recognized Lamar Elementary as a "distinguished performance school." Only 129 campuses in the state received the distinguished designation.

In order to be named a distinguished performance school, the campus must meet six indicators established by TEA's No Child Left Behind division.

The school has to be be eligible for special funding for school districts with high concentrations of low income students for at least three years and have 40 percent or more low-income students in the current year.

The school must also meet adequate yearly progress standards, known as AYP, in the 2005-2006 school year, be identified as an exemplary school in 2006, and had to have received either an exemplary or recognized rating in 2004 and 2005.

The performance standards increase each year in the state’s accountability system. Under the rating system in 2006, schools that earned an exemplary rating had passing rates of 90 percent or more on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills for all students and each student group, and a passing rate of 90 percent or more on the State-Developed Alternative Assessment II for all students, according to TEA.

"AYP evaluations are based on participation and performance on state reading/English language arts and mathematics exams in grades 3-8 and 10; graduation rates and attendance rates. The data are analyzed for all students and each of the following student groups that meet minimum size requirements: African American, Hispanic, white, economically disadvantaged, special education and limited English proficient," TEA notes on its web site. 

The honored schools are among 5,486 Title I schools that will receive a portion of $1.1 billion in federal funding in 2006-07. Federal law requires each state to identify those Title I schools that are meeting or exceeding the state’s definition of adequate yearly progress. The campuses will be recognized later this spring by their respective Education Service Centers. 

Lamar Elementary continues to meet those standards, the only one of the schools in Sulphur Springs Independent School District to attain such a ranking. The school board on Monday night lauded the principal and a number of staff members from Lamar Monday night during the regular March school board meeting.

For more information about Distinguished and Recognized Progress ratings, go to the TEA web site (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index.html) and click on the "Strong Academics Earn 129 Title I Campuses Distinguished Performance Honors" link at the bottom half of the home page.

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