4 Tri-City schools honored for high math, reading scores

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldNovember 30, 2012 

Four Tri-City schools were honored Thursday by educational organizations for achieving high math and reading scores.

In Pasco, James McGee Elementary School was named a School of Distinction for the fourth consecutive year, and Ruth Livingston Elementary Schools earned the distinction for the third straight year. Pasco's Edwin Markham Elementary School and Kennewick's Mid-Columbia Parent Partnership each earned the award for the first time.

Principals at the schools credited their students, staff and parents for the recognition, which is determined by looking at the past five years of test scores.

"It's just been an ongoing effort," said Markham Principal Wendy Lechelt-Polster.

The award, now in its sixth year, is awarded by the Center for Educational Effectiveness and associations representing educational service districts, principals, school administrators and school directors in Washington and the Washington chapter of Phi Delta Kappa.

Ninety-seven schools in Washington were given the award this year. Along with the four in the Tri-Cities, Prospect Point Elementary School in Walla Walla also was awarded.

Qualifying schools must meet at least the state average in math and reading on the Measures of Student Progress and High School Proficiency tests in each grade level, according to the Center for Educational Effectiveness.

Further consideration goes to schools meeting that standard for the past five years. Only the top 5 percent of elementary, middle, high and alternative schools are given the award.

Carrie DeForest, principal at Mid-Columbia Parent Partnership, said her school's success derives from her staff preparing parents to work with children on their studies. The partnership is an alternative school that supports families homeschooling their children.

"(The award) is a reflection of what our parents are doing at home," DeForest said.

Lechelt-Polster said she and her staff are excited about the award, which is the result of ongoing efforts working with students and parents.

"It's not been about test scores," she said. "It's been about having students learn what they need to learn to be successful."

While the award is old hat at McGee and Livingston, their principals said their teachers and students continue to work hard.

McGee Principal Robin Hay said this year's award was achieved with students who helped earn the school's first award four years ago, indicating the school's staff is providing a solid education.

"(The students) buy into the fact that we're here to learn," she said.

Livingston Principal Susan Sparks credited her staff's dedication of working with each student, particularly those that struggle.

"We really make sure no student falls between the cracks," she said.

-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com

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