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Distinguished: Hermon Hutchens Elementary School recognized nationally

Title 1 school given award by association for its continued success 2 years running


January 3, 2018

Students returning to school this week from the winter break can hold their heads a little higher after the elementary school was recognized as performing exceptionally well the past two years.

Hermon Hutchens Elementary School was one of two Alaska schools named with a National Title I Distinguished Schools.

The announcement came Dec. 20 from Dr. Michael Johnson, Alaska's commissioner of Department of Education & Early Development.

The school was recognized for exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years according to the Dept. of Education.

Larson Elementary School in the Matanuska-Susitna School District was also recognized for "excellence in serving special populations of students."

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.

"The students, parents, and educators that have shared a vision and done the hard work necessary to have a great school deserve this recognition," Johnson said in a statement. "Both Hermon Hutchens Elementary and Larson Elementary serve as examples to other communities who want to ensure every student gets an excellent education every day."

Here is how it works: Alaska identifies eligible schools for the award based on their students' performance on the Performance Evaluation for Alaska's Schools (PEAKS) assessment in English language arts and mathematics. Schools selected for the 2016-2017 school year performed in the top ten percent of Title I schools on PEAKS. Identified schools choose to apply for the honor, providing evidence of effectiveness in research-based instructional strategies, providing opportunities for all children to achieve, coordinating Title I with other programs, offering professional development for staff, and partnering with parents, families, and communities.

The organization praised the school, saying that staff strives to provide "a rigorous academic schedule along with a variety of innovative enrichment opportunities. By utilizing research-based curricula and instructional strategies, using data to inform instructional decisions, and fostering partnerships with other significant programs and community members, all Hermon Hutchens Elementary students have the opportunity to achieve high aspirations."

The awarding organization supports school, educators and administrators of Title 1 schools and is run by directors from all fifty states.

Source: Alaska Dept. of Education

PEAK assessment results for Hermon Hutchens students from 2017.

"The National Title I Association is a membership organization made up of the Title I Directors, and their staff from each of the states and territories, charged with managing their state Title I program," the organization said on its website. "They ensure compliance with federal regulations, but more importantly work to see that all children - especially those living in economically disadvantaged conditions - have the opportunity to receive a high quality education."

The history of Title 1 goes back 50 years and is linked to the Civil Rights movement.

"In 1965, President Johnson set the nation on a course to ensure equity for all by increasing access to a basic education," the organization says. "This had been denied to many living in poverty. Now fifty years later, with ever increasing needs and demands for an educated citizenry, we continue to build toward that goal."


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