TRAVERSE CITY — Kingsley Elementary School received national recognition for closing an achievement gap between economically disadvantaged pupils and their peers.
Title 1 funding is a federal source of educational dollars primarily intended to benefit low-income students.The National Title 1 Association, a membership organization of state Title 1 directors, recognizes up to two schools from each state for hosting successful Title 1 programs annually, according to the group’s website.
Kingsley elementary will represent Michigan in 2014 as a distinguished school for shrinking the achievement gap of economically disadvantaged students, the students most at-risk of not meeting state proficiency standards, said Mike Radke, director of the Michigan Department of Education’s Title 1 program.
“Public schools are supposed to serve every student so average performance is important, but addressing the need of those kids most at-risk is something every school needs to spend resources to do,” Radke said.
Kingsley Area Schools earned similar recognition last winter when Bridge Magazine compared Michigan’s school districts with a formula intended to remove the volatility created by a key driver of student success: socioeconomic status. Keith Smith, the district’s superintendent, said the elementary school was a key reason the district ranked 7th overall in that study.
“We’ve known they do very well educating our hardest to educate kids ... but to be recognized on a national level was a surprise to everyone,” Smith said.
Karl Hartman, the school’s principal, said his building’s teachers coordinate lesson plans and instructional methods with each other in an effort to improve all students’ performance. They also focus on getting extra help to children who need it.
“When kids aren’t making it, we’re on it,” Hartman said.
MDOE will send several Kingsley elementary officials to San Diego in February for the 2014 National Title 1 Conference, Radke said.
Smith said the trip will give school staffers a chance to exchange ideas and effective practices with other educators. That’s something schools in Michigan don’t do as much as they should, Smith said.
“One of the things we don’t do as a state nearly enough is look at what are schools doing right,” he said. “A lot of times we focus on what we can’t do and what they don’t do.”
Meyer Elementary School from Croswell-Lexington Community Schools was selected as Michigan’s other 2014 Title 1 distinguished school, Radke said.