Two schools receive awards

BLACKFOOT — Two schools in the Blackfoot School District received recognition from the Idaho State Board of Education for their academic achievement during the 2010-2011 school year.
Blackfoot High School received a Distinguished School award and Fort Hall Elementary received two Additional Yearly Growth Awards. The schools were among 20 total in Idaho recognized for their achievement and growth on the Idaho Standards Achievement Test.
To be designated a Distinguished School, a school must be in the top five percent of schools who make Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years, and reduce the gap in groups or sub-groups by at least 10 percent.
To earn an Additional Yearly Growth Award, a school must make AYP two consecutive years and show an improvement of at least 10 percent in one of the designated groups or subgroups.
State Board of Education spokesman Mark Browning said Blackfoot High School is just one of three high schools in Idaho to receive Distinctive School status and is one of the largest schools to earn the award. BHS showed improvements in reading and among Hispanic students.
Blackfoot School Board Trustee Jenny Hong said the award is a result of the hard work put in by the teachers and administrators at BHS to help the students succeed.
BHS Principal John Pearce, who was hired this year, said he knew he was coming to a good school and the award is a testament to the commitment of the faculty to the students. He said the goal is to achieve AYP again this year.
"I couldn't be more proud," he said. "It's a great honor."
Fort Hall Elementary was one of eight schools in Idaho to receive Additional Yearly Growth awards, and is one of two to receive two awards this year.
In addressing the students, Browning congratulated them and the staff at Fort Hall Elementary.
"You have earned the highest award you can earn in the state of Idaho," he said. "There are just a handful of states that have done that."
Fort Hall Elementary received distinction for growth in math among American Indian students and students receiving free or reduced lunch. Both groups showed double-digit increases from the previous school year.
"Fort Hall has really been challenged over the years," Browning said. "I think it's one of the most outstanding stories in the state."
Fort Hall Elementary Principal Brenda Honena said the success of the students is attributed to the staff and the increase in family involvement at the school.
She said last year—after Fort Hall made AYP for the first time—she challenged the teachers to reach that goal again.
Honena said the students are assessed weekly in math and every other week in reading. Those assessments are used to target instruction to those needing additional attention.
One-third of students at Fort Hall Elementary also participate in an after-school program and at least once a month the school is host of a parent night to increase parental involvement. It is a combination of all these things that Honena said can be attributed to the successes at the school.
"It's a combination of a lot of things," she said. "This was unexpected—a pleasant surprise."