The island school was among 57 schools in the United States named 2020 National ESEA Distinguished Schools, which recognizes extraordinary success of students.
“Like all schools in Glynn, our staff, families and students work extremely hard each and every day for student success,” said Katy Ginn, principal of St. Simons Elementary. “This year has been particularly difficult due to COVID as we have tackled distance and virtual learning, engaging families despite COVID restrictions and maintaining a focus on student support and success.
“It is very encouraging for our school to be recognized nationally for the dedication of our teachers, students and families.”
The National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA) selects examples of superior, federally funded school programs for national recognition through the National ESEA Distinguished Schools program, which has been in place since 1996. The organization celebrates the efforts of schools across the country that are making significant improvements.
The program acknowledged the success of hundreds of schools in one of three categories, which include exceptional student performance and academic growth for two or more consecutive years, closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years and excellence in serving special populations of students.
St. Simons Elementary was recognized in the second category, closing the achievement gap between student groups.
“Our application specifically focused on parent involvement initiatives, our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program and our school’s Ocean Lab,” Ginn said. “We analyzed student achievement data for various subgroups over a three-year period, particularly focusing on student growth.”
The national recognition is given each year to two of the highest performing Title I schools in every state, and in Georgia the top-performing five percent of Title I schools are eligible to apply. Elm Street Elementary School in Coweta County was also honored.
“St. Simons Elementary and Elm Street Elementary are both working hard not just to improve students’ academic achievements but to expand the opportunities available to them,” said state school superintendent Richard Woods. “This is a well-deserved national honor for the faculty, staff and students of each school.”
The honorees are selected based on academic achievement as determined by the school’s CCRPI score, including the year-over-year increase in score, poverty level and initiatives implemented over the past two years that resulted in outstanding academic achievement among traditionally underserved subgroups of students.