student-awardBY MARCY STAMPER

Methow Valley schools have won state achievement awards for the fourth year in a row. Liberty Bell High School has been recognized for overall excellence, for math and for its graduation rate. Methow Valley Elementary School received recognition for achievement in science.
The overall excellence award goes to the top 5 percent of schools, a distinction earned by Liberty Bell for the past four years – since the achievement awards began. Last year and in 2010 Liberty Bell was also recognized for its graduation rate. This is the first year that Methow Valley Elementary received an award.
Across the state, 381 schools received awards, which were bestowed by the State Board of Education and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Other schools in the county to receive recognition are Pateros Elementary, which got awards for science and for closing achievement gaps.
Another award category, called high progress, was for Title I schools, which are in areas with significant populations of low-income students. Pateros Elementary and Okanogan and Tonasket high schools were all recognized for high progress.
Washington’s School Achievement Index rated all schools according to specific outcomes from 2010 to 2012. The indicators are based on statewide assessments in reading, writing, math and science. The index also looks at the school’s extended graduation rate, which includes students who took more than four years to graduate.
In bestowing the recognition, the state also evaluates socio-economic factors, based on the percentage of free and reduced lunches in a district. Researchers also analyze how students perform compared with those in schools with similar characteristics, such as the number of students with a disability or those who are gifted, and assess improvement when compared with the previous year.
The achievement index is a joint project between the Board of Education and OSPI. It is intended to provide a consistent measure of achievement in public schools and to demonstrate improvement over time. Not all schools with good test scores are recognized with these awards, which take into account more complex factors, according to OSPI.