Dr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary School, in the Newhall School District, has been recognized by the State of California as one of only 117 Title 1 Academic Achievement Award winners for 2012.
The school has received this recognition for the last four years and is the only school in the Santa Clarita Valley to be recognized with the award this year. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Torlakson announced the winners today.
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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 has grown steadily since its opening seven years ago and is now 883 – 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 every year – a rarity under NCLB.
“We are very proud of this school,” said Christy Smith, president of the Newhall district’s governing board. “McGrath has an extraordinary history of achievement and this recognition comes on the heels of its national Blue Ribbon School recognition this year.”
Title 1 is a federal compensatory education program for schools with high percentages of students living in poverty. Over eighty percent of McGrath School’s student population participates in the federal free and reduced lunch program and sixty-two percent are English Language Learners.
McGrath was built seven years ago to serve the east Newhall community. The school is on its spring break this week, part of an altered calendar that allows for a shorter summer vacation and the opportunity for student support classes during school vacation periods.
“McGrath has proven that regardless of demographics all students can achieve at high performance levels,” said Jennifer Gutierrez, assistant principal of McGrath. “This award is yet another validation, that the dedication and diligent efforts of our staff, have been fundamental in creating this community of success.”
As a result of their distinguished accomplishments, awardees are also encouraged to serve as models for and provide support to other schools.
More information about this recognition program can be found at www.cde.ca.gov  and in the April 9th press release on this topic from the California Department of Education.