East Port Orchard Elementary honored — again

The collection of trophies and certificates continues to grow at East Port Orchard Elementary School.

But these are for academic rather than athletic accomplishments.

This time, EPO was among eight Title 1 "highest-performing schools" in K-12 throughout the state. Those schools are defined as ones that have meet Adequate Yearly Progress in both reading and math for the last three years and have "no significant opportunity gaps."

At least 40 percent of a school's students must be eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch to qualify as a Title-I school. According to state records, 53.8 percent of EPO’s 511 students in May 2011 came from low-income households, which is the highest rate in the South Kitsap School District.

Last spring, EPO was honored for the sixth time in Smith's tenure “Distinguished School” at the state or nation level. She has been the school's principal since 2000.

"We take our student success so seriously," Smith said. "To have the affirmation that we are on the right track is really exciting."

Smith said her staff accomplishes that through several different methods. She said "Collaboration Wednesdays," when classes start 45 minutes later than normal, are helpful because they allow teachers to review student performance and make adjustments based on that information.

"We've had a pretty focused school-improvement plan," Smith said. "We've developed interventions to really bring students up to level."

EPO will not receive a grant for its latest award, but the school received $5,000 when it was named a Distinguished School. Smith said those grants allowed the school to purchase materials they might not have been able to because of budget reductions. EPO has invested that money into purchasing "intervention materials for reading" for kindergarten through fifth grade.

EPO was among 50 Title 1 "reward schools" in the state. Orchard Heights and Sidney Glen elementary schools also were recognizes as "high-progress schools" in SKSD. A high-progress school is a Title 1 institution that is in the top 10 percent in reading and math combined for the last three years.

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