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Foothills falls in top five percent

Foothills Elementary School recently was named a 2010 Washington State School of Distinction by The Center for Educational Effectiveness and the Washington state chapter of Phi Delta Kappa.

Schools of Distinction include the 5 percent that show the greatest improvement in the state of Washington. This year, 94 schools received the honor.

This is the fourth year for the awards.

For Foothills Elementary, the award is recognition of the staff’s work in taking the school from near the bottom of the district’s schools in performance to consistently one of its top performers.

“In the last four years, Foothills has become one of the highest-performing schools in the district,” Principal Mark Cushman said. “Our staff has really taken to heart their responsibility to get students up to standard. They’ve been working hard.”

“It’s recognition to the staff of all the good work they’ve done. It’s not like it happened by accident,” said Assessment and Curriculum Director Mike Jacobsen, noting the staff’s work on intervention, assessment and learning communities. “Over the last two years it’s very clear, Foothills students are outperforming not only in our district, but also King and Pierce county.

“Even better, it’s not random, like a group of kids moved in, it’s the same kids we’ve always had.”

Candidate schools must be performing at least at the state average performance in fourth, seventh and 10th grade reading and math assessments, as measured on the spring 2010 Measures of Student Progress and High School Proficiency Exam.

Schools meeting this requirement were evaluated on combined reading and math improvement from 2005 to 2010 state assessments.

For 2010, the School of Distinction award winners include 52 elementary schools, 22 middle/junior high schools and 20 high schools. Of these, 37 are repeat winners and 12 are three-time winners.

“Educators in these schools are creating systems of support for outstanding, sustained improvement in reading and math student performance,” said Sue Mills, CEE’s executive director.

“The award represents a cross-section of the dedication to improvement occurring throughout Washington state” said CEE’s director of research, Greg Lobdell. “From Cape Flattery to Clarkston, Metaline Falls to Everett, schools from all nine of the regional Educational Services Districts received the awards.

“These schools also represent the diversity of Washington state, with poverty ranging from 0 percent to 94 percent and English Language Learners as high as 45 percent of student enrollment,” Lobdell said.

“While these schools are from all corners of Washington with varying methods of achieving this improvement, the students are the real winners of this award,” Mills said. “Their success needs to be celebrated and shared to support improvement efforts across Washington to make this difference for all students.”

The awards will be presented Thursday in Seattle.

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