South Sound schools honored for high performance

Fifteen South Sound schools were among 401 public schools awarded the state’s highest academic honor: the Washington Achievement Award. Recipients are the highest performing schools, based on three years of information.

“The award recognizes the great sustained work of each school in terms of results of statewide testing,” said Nathan Olson, communications director for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Schools are honored for overall excellence, exceptional progress, reading growth, math growth, extended graduation rate and English language acquisition.

Each category is evaluated a little differently, but recipients are generally in the top 5 percent or 10 percent of schools. For instance, in the High Progress category, schools qualify if they are in the top 10 percent, making the most progress in reading and math combined. The state takes into account the performance of all students, using the previous three years of data.

Several schools were recognized in more than one category and for several years in a row.

“This is actually the third year that Black Lake is being recognized for overall excellence,” said Kim Howard, Tumwater School District spokesman. “This is also the second year that both (Tumwater) middle schools are being recognized for progress. East Olympia Elementary is also being recognized this year and has received a lot of recognition over the past few years.”

This is the second year in a row that North Thurston High School and Lacey Elementary School have won the award. NTHS was also recognized in 2009, and Lacey received similar state honors in 2008 and 2009.

River Ridge High School also was recognized for making significant progress.

“Student learning and growth for the whole child is at the heart of our mission as a school district,” said Raj Manhas, superintendent for North Thurston Public Schools. “We are so proud of the work by the staff and students at these three schools. This honor shows the community our commitment to excellence and academic achievement. It’s a special first-time honor for River Ridge, whose tireless efforts for student progress are being recognized publicly.”

“The important thing about the Washington Achievement Awards is that they recognize performance and growth over time. This type of consistent work to improve is important, and we’re proud of our four schools that have received this honor,” said Dick Cvitanich, superintendent of the Olympia School District.