The Normantown and Sand Fork elementary schools have been elevated to special honors in the Mountain State: they have both achieved designations as state "Success Schools" for 2013.
In addition, the Normantown School has been named as a "Reward School," an ultra superior accomplishment.
Each school will receive plaques for their splendid academic results, according to the State Superintendent of Schools' Office.
These educational achievements were determined by the West Virginia Dept. of Education's "Title 1: Distinguished Schools" initiative.
Mr. Ron Blankenship, the Gilmer County Schools Superintendent, expressed elation by the awards. "These high accomplishments are the result of a lot of hard work on the parts of the teachers and students," he explains.
Continuing, he emphasizes, "All of our schools are trying to aspire to these high standards and awards; they are all working hard at it."
Of the two Title 1 distinctions, he confirms that only four schools in the state were so designated.
In the state's new accountability system, an index is used to grade the schools for their student achievement in mathematics and English and Language Arts.
By definition, a "Success School" meets its index-based trajectories and demonstrates that a majority of its subgroups are making sufficient academic progress.
"Reward Schools" are those with the highest possible progress being made.
Normantown Elementary was one of 28 designees out of the 652 state schools to have earned the high performing Reward School. Also, they were one of 184 schools to achieve the Success School honor. In this category, there were 652 schools total in the running.
Normantown students and teachers had distinguished themselves by being ranked among the highest 10 percent of schools for Math and English/Language Arts achievement, and without significant achievement gaps, it was also designated as a High Performing Reward School, state education officials note.
According to Melanie B. Purkey, executive director of the Office of Federal Programs at the State's Education Office, the 2013 Title 1 Distinguished Schools Ñ in the top level category with both high honor designations Ñ are only four schools, notably:
Normantown Elementary-Gilmer County;
Moorefield Elementary-Hardy County;
Brandywine Elementary-Pendleton County; and
Crescent Elementary-Raleigh County.
She observes, "As you can see, the criteria for this designation are very stringent. These schools are doing an excellent job."
Relative to the stringency goal, the WV Dept. of Education lists the criteria for attaining the award-winning school status as follows:
The school must be in operation for at least three or more consecutive years;
Be a Title 1 school for three or more consecutive years;
Receive full WV accreditation status from the Office of Education Performance Audits;
Be named as a WV Reward School under agency flexibility;
Demonstrate the required Annual Measurable Objectives target for the total subgroup in both reading/language arts and mathematics (for 2013 WESTEST 2-the target was 60 percent proficient); and
Title 1 schools without Tested grades (PK-2), the Reward School and target requirements are replaced with an application that demonstrates the high-quality early learning programs provided by the school.
The principals at the Normantown and Sand Fork schools are Faye Chambers and Shelly Zinn Mason, respectively.