Madison Elementary School in Olympia is one of five schools in the state that are being recognized for their outstanding student performance and work toward closing the achievement gap.
The 200-student school was recently named a Title I, Part A Distinguished School.
The award is a joint project between the National Title I Association and the U.S. Department of Education.
Washington’s other honorees were Columbia Ridge Elementary in Ephrata, Lake Forest Park Elementary in Shoreline, Burley-Glenwood Elementary in the South Kitsap School District and Neah Bay Elementary in the Cape Flattery School District.
“These schools are doing great work,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. “Despite challenging circumstances, they are doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of their students.”
As part of the award, Madison received $5,000 to support its programs, and additional funding to send three people to the National Title I Conference last week in Nashville, Tenn.
Two teachers and a paraeducator who works with the school’s reading program attended the conference.
“It’s really beneficial for staff to get recognized and also to learn what’s happening around the country,” said principal Gayle Mar-Chun. “They came back with many ideas.”
Madison has beaten district and state averages for the past two years in standardized reading test scores.
But those scores don’t come easily, especially when 55 percent to 60 percent of the students qualify for the free- and reduced-price lunch program, which is an indicator of poverty. In addition, the school serves a large portion of the district’s homeless students.
“We have a lot of challenges,” Mar-Chun said. “Whatever the barriers are, we try to remove the barriers so we can reach the child.”
One of the programs that has brought the biggest change is Walk to Read, which provides 90 minutes of personalized reading time and instruction for every student in the school.
“Kids are taught at their instructional reading level, not their grade level,” Mar-Chun said.
The school plans to spend its $5,000 on professional development for staff around writing, some technology support and an end-of-the-year team building and teacher collaboration time where staff can work the school’s improvement goals, she firstname.lastname@example.org