from Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune
By Adam Rodewald
Several schools from central Wisconsin were recognized by the state for academic achievement despite high levels of poverty.
Eleven Clark County schools and one in each Wisconsin Rapids and Almond-Bancroft received 2007-08 New Wisconsin Promise recognition awards for achievement in math and reading. Some of those schools have been honored for two or more consecutive years.
"(A Wisconsin Promise school) is definitely a place where learning takes place and kids are a No. 1 priority," said Almond-Bancroft principal Jeff Rykal.
Schools credited dedicated faculty members and community support for their success.
"I think sometimes families or schools that have high poverty rates, when they're struggling financially, it makes it more difficult to have school be a focus. Yet despite financial difficulties, these families have still maintained that focus," said Shannon Matott, principal of Pitsch Elementary in Wisconsin Rapids.
Collaboration and schoolwide support for the standardized testing process also helps, she said. Her school targets and works with students who score low on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.
The same goes for Abbotsford: "I think the emphasis we put on our remedial efforts and after-school programs all contribute to that type of success, plus the parental support that we get," district superintendent Reed Welsh said. "Parents are very involved in the school and want to see their students succeed, and I think that's key to any type of success."
To be recognized, schools must qualify for federal Title I funding and be among the highest poverty schools in the state, based on free and reduced-price school lunch data.
Students also must score above the state average for similar schools in reading and math assessments, and they must have made adequate yearly progress, based on No Child Left Behind standards, for the past two years.
Schools meeting the criteria will receive $1,500 and an award plaque during an Oct. 3 ceremony at the state Capitol.
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