Dr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary School has been recognized by the State of California as a Title 1 Academic Achievement Award winner. McGrath is the only school in the Santa Clarita Valley to receive this honor and has received this recognition for the last three years. The award was also given to 237 other schools throughout the state.
Principal Larry Heath received notice of this award in phone call yesterday from Jack O'Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
"It is definitely worthwhile to personally give credit where credit is due," said O'Connell. "I wanted to let these school leaders know that their hard work has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated."
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requires all states receiving Title I funds to establish a program that recognizes Title I schools that exceed Adequate Yearly Progress for two or more years or significantly close the achievement gap among numerically significant subgroups.
In addition to these federal law requirements, California's program has been designed to identify and honor Title I schools that have also doubled their Academic Performance Index (API) growth target for two consecutive years, and that meet a designated median API score in both English-language arts and mathematics.
McGrath School's API grew by 24 points over last year and is now at 857 - far above the state goal of 800 and far beyond the API of schools with like populations throughout the state. The school has made Adequate Yearly Progress since its opening six years ago.
"We are very proud of this school," said Mike Shapiro, president of the Newhall district's governing board. "Our teachers, principals, and students work hard to achieve and we welcome this recognition."
Title 1 is a federal compensatory education program for schools with high percentages of students living in poverty. Over 80 percent of McGrath School's student population participates in the federal free and reduced lunch program and fifty-five percent are English Language Learners.
McGrath was built six years ago to serve the east Newhall community.
"Our teachers have steadily increased learning at the site through greater and greater sophistication in knowing what our students need to succeed," said Heath. "The award is especially meaningful because of its focus on students in the most academic need. The staff at McGrath always keeps all students' needs and achievement front and center."
Title I Academic Achievement Award (AAA) schools will be recognized at the annual State Title I Conference in April. As a result of their distinguished accomplishments, awardees are also encouraged to serve as models for and provide support to other schools.
"These award recipients prove that with hard work and high expectations, students can overcome challenges and achieve academic success," said O'Connell. "By working together, administrators, teachers, staff, students, and parents have raised student achievement and narrowed the achievement gap. I congratulate these schools and everyone who worked hard to make them deserving of this significant award."
The 2009-10 awardees will be honored at a reception and banquet at the Disneyland Hotel on April 21.