Yuma Elementary was one of only two elementary schools in the commonwealth to be recognized by the Virginia Board of Education Thursday as a highly distinguished Title I school.
Both Yuma and Falls Church’s Thomas Jefferson Elementary earned the award for raising the academic achievement of economically disadvantaged students.
The board designated a total of 57 Title I schools as either distinguished or highly distinguished based on student performance on Standards of Learning tests from the 2011 and 2012 school years.
“I commend the teachers, principals and other educators in all of these schools for helping students meet the commonwealth’s expectations for grade-level learning in reading and mathematics,” Board of Education President David M. Foster said in a statement issued Thursday. “Virginia’s new SOL tests — which emphasize the application of content knowledge and critical thinking — set a higher bar and the students in these schools are better prepared for having met it.”
Yuma and Thomas Jefferson earned their highly distinguished status by exceeding all state and federal accountability benchmarks and achieving pass rates exceeding 85 percent in both English and mathematics for two straight years.
Scott County Schools Superintendent John Ferguson said Yuma’s designation was achieved despite the economic situation many of the students’ families find themselves in.
“By being one of two of the highly distinguished schools throughout the state it is by all means a tremendous honor,” Ferguson said. “According to the state’s composite index, we are the third-poorest county in Virginia, so to be recognized means a lot for the school and for Scott County.”
One other Scott County school — Weber City Elementary — and three Wise County schools — Coeburn Primary, St. Paul Elementary and Wise Primary — were included in the list of distinguished Title I schools.
Those schools were recognized by the state board for meeting all state and federal accountability requirements and posting a pass rate of 60 percent or higher on English and math SOLs.
Ferguson credited the work of teachers, students and families at both schools as the driving factor behind their academic performance.
“We’re very proud of the fact that Yuma was recognized, as well as Weber City,” Ferguson said. “We’re very appreciative of the hard work and dedication that the teachers put forth to make our students so successful. And we’re also proud of the students for their efforts, and the parents too, because the home is where it all begins.”
To be covered under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, an elementary school must have at least 50 percent of its student population qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program.
Ferguson said 58 percent of Scott County’s elementary students qualify for the program. All of Scott County’s eight elementary and primary schools are covered under Title I, as are all six of Wise County’s.