Tilford Elementary has been in the news for being a Blue Ribbon School, but what is that?
Tilford’s Blue Ribbon School award is an important milestone for the Vinton-Shellsburg school district. Each state’s top education office nominates select schools to the U.S. Department of Education out of the 130,000 school buildings in the United States. This year only 349 schools from the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education were recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. An individual school may only receive this coveted award once every five years.
Tilford Elementary has received recognition for being in the top 15% of all schools making progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups in English and mathematics over the past five years, as measured by state assessments.
Achievement gaps are common between students from high-income families compared with students from families with significantly lower incomes. Other factors can include the amount of stress the child’s family is under or special challenges of everyday life that can affect the student’s attendance. Eliminating the achievement gaps between student groups is important for their success in reading and math, their success in later school years, and eventually impacts graduation rates and the well-being of future generations.
“We achieved this level of excellence by researching, finding best practices, and learning,” said Tilford Principal Jim Murray. “I think what Vinton-Shellsburg does so well is to stay ahead of the curve on data-driven instructional best practice. We have exceptional leadership from our superintendent and our school board. They trust us, they listen, and they provide the resources we need to meet the needs of all our students.”
Murray also said the Tilford staff has great teamwork; teamwork fostered because there is time built into the day for staff members to meet and collaborate on student achievement. Looking at the data to identify students who are not meeting the achievement goals, and designing interventions to bring them to the desired level of proficiency is part of Tilford’s routine.
The results show in the achievement data from the school. In the last standardized tests, 96% of 3rd-graders were proficient in math, and 93% were proficient in reading, while 86% of the 4th-grade class were proficient in math and 81% in reading.
“As a community and a school district, we are exceptionally proud of the work being done at Tilford on behalf of our students,” said Mary Jo Hainstock, district superintendent. “We are proud of our teachers, staff members, and administrators, but our greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that our students have the solid educational foundation they need to experience success in the future. As professional educators, the national Blue Ribbon School award has special significance because it recognizes our ability to provide a solid foundation for all of our students, not only those who are exceptionally gifted or those from economically advantaged families.”
Superintendent Hainstock said she also wanted to express appreciation for the Tilford principal. “Jim Murray has done an excellent job as principal to establish the systems needed to reach this level of educational excellence, and he continues working hard to support and coordinate each individual’s effort for maximum, positive impact for students.”
Hainstock, Murray, and faculty members Sara Mathis and Lisa Murray were in Washington D.C. last week to accept the award on behalf of the Vinton-Shellsburg School District and Tilford Elementary School.
To learn more about Tilford Elementary, visit www.vscsd.org/tilford-elementary.