By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Cape Flattery School District’s Neah Bay Elementary School and Sequim School District’s Greywolf Elementary School are two of only 55 elementary schools in the state to earn the title.
They made the Center for Educational Effectiveness’ list of the top 5 percent of schools for student progress in the past five years.
The award is based on scores from exams administered by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In the past few years, Neah Bay, a small elementary school with 130 students on the Makah reservation, has received a host of awards after turning around scores that were near the bottom of state testing.
The school may be running out of room in the trophy case.
“It’s a great problem to have,” said Kandy Ritter, superintendent of Cape Flattery schools.
Neah Bay Elementary Principal Alice Murner was not available for comment Thursday.
According to OSPI records, Neah Bay’s gradual but steady improvement began in the 2004-05 school year, when fewer than 30 percent of students were meeting state standards in almost every subject and grade level.
When the five-year period of time included in the award began in the 2008-09 school year, student scores had improved to between 50 percent and 80 percent meeting standards in different areas, but many students still struggled in math.
By the 2012-13 school year, the school exceeded state averages in every category, with more than 90 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards in some subjects, according to the state.
“This award represents the fact that there is a great deal of pride in the community. It recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of the students and leadership,” Ritter said.
Greywolf Elementary in Sequim, with 537 students, had scores ranging between 44.3 percent to 77.4 percent meeting standards in 2008-09.
In 2012-13, the lowest passing rate was 77.9 percent, with 86.8 percent of fifth-graders meeting or exceeding reading standards.
“Our kids work hard every day in school and at home with their parents as well,” said Principal Donna Hudson, who has headed the school for four years.
“Our staff has worked very hard. . . . An award like this is really a team effort, and at Greywolf Elementary, we have developed a great team,” she said.
Vince Riccobene, executive director of the Teaching and Learning Department, added: “This award is a testament to Greywolf Elementary School’s staff, students, leaders and the community serving our children.”
This is the seventh annual School of Distinction award recognition in Washington state.
The award is sponsored by the Center for Educational Effectiveness, the Association of Educational Service Districts, the Association of Washington School Principals, Washington Association of School Administrators and Washington State School Directors’ Association.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.