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Two Alaska Schools Named National Title I Distinguished Schoolsl

JUNEAU  -- John Shaw Elementary School in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District  and Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in the Anchorage School District have  been named National Title I Distinguished Schools by the Alaska Department of  Education & Early Development, Commissioner Mike Hanley announced today.

John  Shaw Elementary was recognized for exceptional student performance for two or  more consecutive years. Alaska Native Cultural Charter School was recognized  for significantly closing the achievement gap between student groups.

Title  I schools receive federal funds to support programs that supplement instruction  to meet the educational needs of low-achieving students in high-poverty schools.  The National Title I Distinguished Schools Program is a project of the National  Title I Association. Selected schools must have a poverty rate of at least 35  percent and have met or exceeded state standards for making adequate yearly  progress for two or more consecutive years. Each state, using its own selection  process, may select two schools for the honor.

"These  two distinguished schools demonstrate the power of communities to provide all  students the opportunity for a good education," said Commissioner Hanley. "The  awards recognize the dedicated efforts of students, parents, educators and  school district staff. Their achievements are an inspiration."

Alaska  identifies eligible schools for the award based on their students’ performance  on state standards-based assessments in reading, writing and math. Identified  schools then must choose to apply for the honor, providing evidence of  effectiveness in research-based instructional strategies, opportunities for all  children to achieve, coordination of Title I with other programs, professional  development of staff, and partnerships with parents, families and communities.

John Shaw  Elementary in Wasilla serves approximately 385 students in grades  pre-kindergarten to 5. Last school year, 87 percent of its state-assessed  students scored proficient or above in language arts; 84 percent were  proficient or above in math. Nearly half its students are economically  disadvantaged, a quarter are students with disabilities, and a fifth are  English language learners.

John Shaw  Elementary believes that relationships are the foundation upon which they build  instructional practices. All core teachers "loop," spending two years with the  same class of students. The school has a strong professional learning community  framework to engage in on-going professional development targeted to the unique  needs of the students. Teachers participate in "instructional tours" allowing  teachers the experience of seeing best practices happening in other classrooms  and the ability to give and receive feedback to each other to improve  instruction. The school places emphasis on parent engagement and has trained a  group of parents that serve as instructional tutors.

The Alaska Native Cultural Charter  School serves approximately 225 students in grades pre-kindergarten to 7.  Nearly all students are economically disadvantaged and about 90 percent are  Alaska Natives. The school has showed gains in proficiency at each  state-assessed grade level over the past three years. For example, more than 90  percent of third-graders are proficient in reading and writing, and 81 percent  are proficient in math.

The Alaska Native Cultural Charter  School focuses on professional development for teachers to support academic  learning as well as to support the social, emotional, and cultural needs of the  students. The school staff works together as a team, coordinates with numerous  district and federal programs to ensure a unified and purposeful approach to  strengthening students, and has established partnerships with many  organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club and The Alaska Native Heritage  Center.

For  more information about the National Title I Association Distinguished Schools  program, see www.nationaltitleiassociation.org.

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