Harry Street Elementary School principal Stacie Meyer couldn't remember the banner from 2003-04 — the last time students scored well enough on state assessments to earn the title "standard of excellence."
But she already knows what she wants to do with the banners to recognize the third-graders who earned the label in reading and math tests they took in the spring.
"We'll put the banners out in the hall, where they can really see them," instead of the front entrance of the school, Meyer said.
Wichita schools this year received 127 of the state's standard of excellence awards, eight more than 2008, according to state data released this week. The award requires a certain percentage of students to score higher than passing on state assessments.
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These same standardized tests are used to determine whether schools achieve "adequately yearly progress" in reading and math as required by federal No Child Left Behind laws. Fourteen more Wichita schools fell short of the state's test goals, according to results released last month.
State education officials said the percentage of students passing the tests to meet federal standards speaks more to the school's progress than the state's standard of excellence award, which is based on a complicated formula.
But receiving the title can mean a boost in morale among students and teachers, said Diane DeBacker, who was named interim state commissioner of education on Wednesday.
"They don't get much recognition for AYP (adequately yearly progress)," except when schools fail to meet targets, DeBacker said. It's an incentive "to get one of those banners, literally, hanging in schools."
At Harry Street, Meyer said students not only passed the tests, but they also made double-digit percentage increases.
Last year, the school hovered just above having to offer federally required improvement measures, such as transfers to other schools and tutoring programs.
But the school did establish similar programs, such as an after-school tutoring programs in which teachers would instruct struggling students one on one. Money the school receives from having a high-poverty student population paid the teachers for their extra time.
"We got to see what the kids needed for a little boost," said third-grade teacher Megan Bleier.
A new discipline program Meyer started last year has helped keep students in the classroom when they misbehave, rather than sending them to another teacher's classroom, Bleier said.
Last year was her first year of teaching, and she said the standard of excellence award was "huge.''
"It makes me feel I did my job," Bleier said.