Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
The State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Richard Ross, made stops in Scioto County on Tuesday to visit two local schools that have earned the Schools of Promise designation from the Ohio Department of Education. Ross visited Wheelersburg Elementary and Clay High School on Tuesday to present each school with a banner identifying them as a School of Promise.
The Schools of Promise award program recognizes schools attaining solid student achievement in reading and mathematics while serving a significant number of economically disadvantaged students. As an incentive to help close achievement gaps in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Education developed the Schools of Promise program to identify, recognize and highlight schools that are making substantial progress in ensuring high achievement for all students.
Schools of Promise must have a 75 percent or better average proficiency rate on the Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA) and the Ohio Graduation Tests for the 2012-13 school year. They must also have a 75 percent proficiency rate in two subgroups; an A or B grade for their annual measurable objective for narrowing performance gaps between groups of students on the local school report card; an A, B, or C progress grade on the local school report card; and a graduation rate of A or B. The schools must also serve 40 percent of more economically disadvantage students.
There were only 141 school buildings, among more than 4,000, called a School of Promise in the state of Ohio.
“It’s about having high expectations for all children. Expectations that children, no matter where they are, can learn at high levels and are actually accomplishing that,” Ross said. “These are shining stars and examples for other schools to emulate and look after. We’re very proud of what happens here, and we wanted to come down and say thank you and keep up the good work.”
Clay Superintendent Tony Mantell called it an honor to have the superintendent of state personally visiting his district.
“We’re just extremely thrilled that he came to see us today. We’re a small school. Sometimes you feel that being in a small school that you’re not on the radar of the state superintendent. I don’t necessarily feel that way, but sometimes you wonder. Obviously that’s not the case. He came down to visit us — a school of 650 kids. That shows you that he believes that our school is just as important as a school with 5,000 or 10,000 or more. Every school is important to their community,” Mantell said.
Wheelersburg Superintendent Mark Knapp said his students were equally excited to greet Dr. Ross on Tuesday.
“This makes the sixth year in a row that we have been named a School of Promise, and we’re very proud of that. I think Dr. Ross summed it up, in that we just kind of have a ‘can-do’ attitude at the district. We believe all of our children can learn and we work very hard to try to make that happen,” Knapp said.
At both school, Ross spent some time speaking with staff and students in the classrooms.
“They (students) were glad to see him. Some of them sang for him. A couple classrooms did a little dance routine for their morning warm-up getting ready to learn. It was a great experience and he really enjoyed it,” Knapp said.
In addition to receiving a banner for School of Promise, Ross also presented Wheelersburg Elementary with a plaque in recognition of being among 286 schools identified by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon Schools, based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement. The National Blue Ribbon Schools award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students’ levels of achievement.
“Excellence in education matters and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers,” Duncan said. “National Blue Ribbon schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education.”
In addition to Clay High School and Wheelersburg Elementary, Northwest and Valley high schools and New Boston’s Stanton Elementary were also named a School of Promise by the Ohio Department of Education this month. A complete list of the Ohio Department of Education’s 2012-13 Schools of Promise is available online at http://education.ohio.gov.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.