State recognizes two peninsula schools for improvement

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, December 1, 2015 10:38pm
  • News

Two Kenai Peninsula schools have been named by the Alaska Department of Early Education and Development as National Title I Distinguished Schools this year.

Chapman School in Anchor Point and Nikolaevsk School in Nikolaevsk were chosen based on two or more years of proven exceptional student performance and the on-site programs that make high success possible for low-income populations.

“We are very proud of the schools,” said Superintendent Sean Dusek in a Nov. 23 press release. “Their staff, students and communities have worked very hard. There is an obvious focus on meeting individual student needs, which has shown great results. We are very excited that the schools have earned this honor from the state level.”

The recognition comes every year from the National Title I Association. Since 2012, five of Alaska’s Title I schools have been named as Distinguished Schools. Last year 63 schools were selected nationwide.

Nineteen of the school district’s 44 schools receive Title I funding, which is designated for school districts and individual schools where the need is most significant, said Early Education Department Public Information Officer Eric Fry.

More than half of Alaska’s 505 public schools receive Title I funding, Fry said.

“The Title I program provides resources — Alaska received more than $37 million this year — to schools to better ensure that all students have a fair opportunity to access a high quality education,” Fry said. “Resources are distributed based upon the percent of low income and can be used to address the learning needs of low-achieving and disadvantaged students.”

Chapman Principal Conrad Woodhead and Nikolaevsk Principal Michael Sellers take different approaches to address the barriers to student achievement.

At Chapman, educators and administration emphasize early intervention strategies for kindergarten through third-graders that decrease the achievement gap while staff at Nikolaevsk focus on improving performance by meeting the needs of the individual.

Woodhead said the recognition validates programs and services in place at the school.

“For me, it’s difficult to attribute our success to a specific program, when really, it’s a multitude of factors,” Woodhead said. “It’s a combination of these that makes it work. From our Title I programs, our level of technology, our programmatic staffing, our intervention processes, our special services folks, our teachers, and support staff, they are all equally important in ensuring the success we share as a school community.”

Only 110 students attend Chapman, which helps staff identify and meet needs on an individual level, Woodhead said.

“I believe it is our ability to do this extremely well that sets us apart,” Woodhead said. “On top of all this, we have great kids from great families who respond well to the things we do. For that, we are equally lucky and grateful.”

Schools with a 35 percent or higher poverty rate are considered for the recognition, which is based on how many students qualify for free or reduced meals through the United State’s Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program.

In 2014, 60 percent of Chapman’s students qualified as low-income, approximately 4 percent more than in 2013.

Despite being economically disadvantaged, 100 percent of Nikolaevsk’s students consistently graduate on time. Staff help students develop and meet performance goals based on personal academic data.

“As a result of the teachers’ efforts toward focusing on individual student needs, adopting programs that fit within those goals, and focusing on research-based methods in instruction, Nikolaevsk has seen years of success as a five-star school and a school with successful students,” Sellers said in a press release.

School districts apply for funding annually, and have flexibility when deciding which schools will receive the Title I designation, Fry said.

In the current, 2015–2016 school year, 26 schools in the school district meet the 35 percent poverty criteria, said Director of Federal Programs Tim Vlasak. The school district uses assistance programs to target early elementary classes. Nineteen of the school district’s 44 schools “meet this additional criteria,” he said.

The Distinguished School designation is to identify on a national level, which schools are meeting the goals the federal funding is meant to address, Fry said. Performance in Alaska is based on standardized testing, he said.

It is uncommon for Alaska to choose two schools from the same school district in the same year, Fry said. The selected schools are invited to attend the National Title I Conference held in Houston, Texas in January, he said.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Flowers bloom at Soldotna City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs bumps to city water, sewer rates

The changes are effective July 1

Triumvirate Theatre President Joe Rizzo testifies before the Kenai Planning & Zoning Commission on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai OKs permit for new Triumvirate playhouse

The playhouse design describes a $4.7 million facility that is two stories with an audience capacity of 150 people

Kenai City Council member Alex Douthit testifies in support of legislation allowing chickens on some city lots during a meeting of the Kenai Planning & Zoning Commission on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai planning group gives conditional thumbs-up to chicken ordinance

The legislation would allow Kenai residents to keep up to 12 chicken hens on certain lots

Emergency personnel respond to a fire on R/V Qualifier, in the Northern Enterprises Boatyard on Kachemak Drive, Jan. 19, 2023, in Homer, Alaska. (Photos by Nika Wolfe)
Research vessel catches fire in Homer boatyard

The cause of the fire and extent of the damage is not yet known

Alaska Vocational Technical Center Executive Director Cathy LeCompte presents during a Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
AVTEC director plugs programming at chamber luncheon

AVTEC is about more, LeCompte said, than just checking off classes to gain certification

From left, Dave Carey, Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, Zach Hamilton and Peter Micciche participate in a Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor candidate forum on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough mayoral candidates participate in Tuesday forum

The forum was hosted by the Peninsula Clarion and KDLL 91.9 FM in partnership with the Central Peninsula League of Women Voters

A volunteer ladles Hungarian mushroom soup donated by Odie’s at Kenai United Methodist Food Pantry in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Jan. 23, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Church food pantry marks 20 years of service

The Food Pantry at Kenai United Methodist Church opened Jan. 26, 2003

Library Director Dave Berry and Advisory Board Chair Kate Finn participate in Library Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday Jan. 17, 2023, at Homer City Hall, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Emilie Springer/Homer News)
Homer Library Advisory Board upholds decision to retain LGBTQ+ books

A citizen’s group last year submitted a petition asking that the books be removed from the children’s section

Most Read