Kelly Elementary School principal Brian Huffman isn't sure where he'll hang the banner noting that fifth-graders earned a state standard of excellence in math.
Perhaps it's because he's never had to find a spot before. The honor, announced Tuesday, is a first for the south Wichita school.
"We're very excited about it," Huffman said. "We will share it with all of the kids and use it as a motivational tool to help them prepare for this year."
Wichita schools this year received 108 of the state's standard of excellence awards, according to state data released Tuesday. The award requires a certain percentage of students to score higher than passing on state assessments.
The same tests are used to determine whether schools achieve "adequate yearly progress" in reading and math as required by federal No Child Left Behind laws.
Results from the 2010 Kansas assessments, presented Tuesday during a State Board of Education meeting in Topeka, show a 10-year growth trend in reading and math, officials said.
Students performing in the top three levels — approaches standard, meets standard or exceeds standard — on the reading assessment increased to 86.3 percent in 2010, up slightly from 85.7 percent in 2009. In math, students in the top three levels totaled 83.1 percent, up from 82.8 percent in 2009.
Wichita also cheered Tuesday's announcement. Standard of excellence awards were given to 26 Wichita elementary schools, one K-8 school, four middle schools and one high school. Of those schools, 16 received Title I funding, which is intended for schools with a high percentage of students in poverty.
The awards show "that our teachers are able to reach students at all levels," said Wichita superintendent John Allison.
Brandi Stockebrand, a fifth-grade teacher at Kelly Elementary, said "there were literally tears" of joy when teachers received preliminary test results last spring. The standard of excellence honor for fifth-graders was another surprise, she said.
"I think we really came together as a team. We looked at our kids and said, 'What do these kids need?' And we tried to focus on that," Stockebrand said. Last year several teachers gave up their lunch hours to tutor students who needed extra help, she said.
"Our teachers did especially well motivating the kids and getting them to care about the test. It may be just a number for them, but we talked about how it's an opportunity to show everyone what they've learned."