Celebrations were spontaneously spreading through the White River School District Feb. 1.
White River High School Principal Mike Hagadone called a spur-of-the-moment after-school meeting for staff. Superintendent Tom Lockyer excitedly shared the news with the White River School Board at its meeting that night.
Late that afternoon, the district received word from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education that White River High School was the recipient of a Washington Achievement Award, celebrating the top-performing schools and recognizing achievement in multiple categories.
Lockyer explained the highly selective award is based on the school’s performance according to the Washington Achievement Index, a comprehensive measurement of how schools in Washington are performing over time. The Washington Achievement Award is given to elementary, middle, high and comprehensive schools in seven different categories: overall excellence, language arts, math, science, extended graduation rate (high and comprehensive schools only), improvement and closing achievement gaps.
“We were very excited,” Hagadone said. “It certainly, I think, validates the work our teachers and our students are doing is paying off.
“What’s significant is it is simply based on our data and that all our kids in the subcategories and extended graduation rates and schools like us.”
Hagadone pointed out of the 24 high schools to win the award, 14 were comprehensive or traditional schools like White River; the others were magnet or alternative schools like Avanti in Olympia.
The Washington Achievement Award celebrates schools for overall excellence and special recognition in: language arts, math, science, graduation rate, improvement and closing achievement gaps and honors schools at an annual ceremony hosted by the SBE and OSPI.
Schools are selected based on their statewide assessment data for the three previous years. This data is analyzed using the Achievement Index and methodology approved by both OSPI and the SBE.
The award is important because both the State Board of Education and Superintendent Randy Dorn recognize the effort educators, administrators and families are putting into making schools the best. They also know schools need a reliable and fair tool to help make sense of assessment data and align those data with state and national priorities. The Washington Achievement Award shines a light on some of the best practices that are making that success possible.