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Two Kansas schools recognized as National ESEA Distinguished Schools

Posted: Dec 4, 2020
Categories: KSDE
Author: Ann Bush

Two Kansas schools are being nationally recognized for exceptional student achievement in 2020.

Sheridan Elementary School, Geary County Unified School District 475, and Chetopa Elementary School, Chetopa-St. Paul USD 505, are both National ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Distinguished Schools, formerly known as the National Title I Distinguished Schools Program.

The National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program, which is a project of the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA), has been publicly recognizing qualifying schools for their positive educational advances since 1996. The program showcases the success of hundreds of schools in one of three categories:

  • Category 1: Exceptional student performance and academic growth for two or more consecutive years.
  • Category 2: Closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years.
  • Category 3: Excellence in serving special populations of students.

NAESPA implemented the National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program to highlight selected schools that have successfully used their ESEA federal funds to improve the education for all students. More information about the program is available on the ESEA Network website, www.ESEAnetwork.org.

Sheridan Elementary School is being recognized in Category 1 (exceptional student performance), and Chetopa Elementary School is being recognized in Category 2 (closing the achievement gap).

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) used data from previous Kansas State Assessments to determine the two schools from Kansas to be recognized.

KSDE will provide a small stipend to each school so staff members can attend the virtual 2021 National ESEA Conference from Feb. 8-11, 2021.

Dixie Coleman is principal of Sheridan Elementary School, and Dr. Reginald Eggleston is superintendent of Geary County USD 475.

The school serves about 250 students from early childhood to fifth grade, Coleman said.

“Everyone speaks of the welcoming environment and the incredible work ethic of the staff and students,” Coleman said. “Our parents are very supportive. Our district has a very strong belief in professional development. We have been fortunate to receive training in both Trauma Informed and Safe and Civil Schools. This training, along with our data-driven instruction, up-to-date curriculum and consistent Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) protocols, have fostered consistent social-emotional and academic student growth. Having an instructional coach to work with teachers and students has been a huge factor in our success.”

The school focuses on “what matters,” she said, which is people and relationships, professional development and instruction time.

“We take time to cultivate a climate of caring and compassion,” the principal said. “We use time effectively in planning and implementing professional development. Student time is protected, and learning is focused and relevant. Classified and certified staff members are completely dedicated to the success of each student.”

Jolene Paden is the principal at Chetopa Elementary School, and Craig Bagshaw is superintendent of Chetopa-St. Paul USD 505.

The school serves about 66 students in pre-K through fifth grade, Paden said.

“The camaraderie of our elementary teachers stands out above all else,” she said. “Led by our Title I teacher, Lori Midgett, teachers consistently collaborate reviewing data, which in turn drives instruction. Teachers meet daily with students in accordance with tiered level reading, working toward meeting reading goals.”

Chetopa Elementary utilizes MTSS, Acadience Reading, IXL, Wonders and progress monitoring tools to review data and determine students' current needs, according to Paden. State educational supports, such as the Kansas Technical Assistance System Network (TASN), offered guidance for using data for purposeful and meaningful application of initiatives and helping students build a strong reading foundation.

The school also was afforded the opportunity to be a part of an after-school program known as Kansas Reading Roadmap, Paden said. The Kansas Reading Roadmap combines in-school interventions with out-of-school evidence-based supplementals provided by Families and Schools Together Inc. to support students who struggle with reading.

“Chetopa staff has a commitment to prioritizing building relationships, knowing and understanding the student as a whole, and meeting the needs of students for academic success,” Paden said. “USD 505 is proud of Chetopa Elementary’s accomplishments and notarization for closing the gap for student success.”

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