Schools recognized for high improvement

Grass Valley, Cape Horn-Skye are 'Schools of Distinction'

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Grass Valley Elementary School kindergarten teacher Ellen Keller and her students participate in an interactive math lesson. Grass Valley has been named a statewide "School of Distinction," for improving performance for all students.

Two local elementary schools have made the prestigious statewide, “Schools of Distinction” list.

The awards were created by the Center for Educational Effectiveness in the summer of 2007, to recognize the highest improving schools in the state.

This year, Grass Valley Elementary in Camas and Cape Horn-Skye Elementary in Washougal were honored.

“The awards are not designed as a replacement for state and federal accountability measure of school performance, but rather as a supplemental measure to recognize and celebrate school staff, students and leadership who improve performance for all students over a sustained period of time,” stated the CEE website.

It is Grass Valley’s first year as a school of distinction. Cape Horn Skye has been named to the list for the third time.

Patricia Erdmann, Grass Valley principal, said she is very proud of the award, especially given that the school is only in its third year of operation.

“It feels really affirming,” she said. “We have worked hard to continuously improve and meet the needs of all of our kids, and give extra support to those kids who need it. It’s exciting to be able to tell the teachers this news.”

Mary Lou Woody, Cape Horn-Skye Elementary principal, said she was thrilled to learn her school had been selected.

“Receiving any award is always an honor, a pleasure, and a responsibility,” she said. “The credit goes to everyone that works with our students. Our parents are very supportive of all our efforts. We know they are behind us all the way. The staff is so dedicated. Everyday, they make decisions about how to best provide a safe, fun and educational environment for our students.”

The award is given based on state test scores in the third- through fifth-grade, among other factors.

“We know that score wouldn’t improve it wasn’t for the learning that takes place in kindergarten through second-grade,” Erdmann said. “Teachers work hard to have kids know what to do to be successful.”

Future goals at Grass Valley include developing common assessments at every grade level.

“We want to be clear about our learning targets,” she said. “We need to be in agreement of how we know students have learned the material. This year, we are looking at adding more informational text and persuasive writing.”

At Cape Horn-Skye, the goal is continuous improvement.

“Our vision for the future will be to look at where we are, reflect together, and strive to extend our learning even further,” Woody said. “We will do this by always being aware of best teaching practices and nurturing a strong community of learners.”