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Two elementary schools win state awards

Victoria and College Park receive Title I awards, for schools with many lowincome students.

April 07, 2007|By Michael Miller

Victoria Elementary School was one of two Newport-Mesa Unified schools to win a Title I Academic Achievement Award this week — and the prize, which goes to schools with many low-income students, was the latest addition to Victoria's increasingly crowded trophy case.

"It's been a great year for everybody," Principal Judy Laakso said. Last spring, the school became the first in Newport-Mesa history to win a California Distinguished School Award and a Title I award at the same time. Victoria is nominated this year as a federal Blue Ribbon School, and Laakso recently won the county's Outstanding Contributions to Education Award. When the state ranked schools last week in comparison to others with similar demographics, Victoria was one of five in Newport-Mesa to score a perfect 10.

Victoria joined College Park Elementary School this year in receiving the Title I award, which went to 461 schools statewide. College Park also scored a 10 on the Similar Schools Rank and led all campuses in the district last year by gaining 93 points on the Academic Performance Index, a state system of measuring schools' growth on standardized test scores.

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"It's so validating for the staff," College Park Principal Pat Insley said. "Our staff has worked so hard for the last couple of years, and we are starting to enjoy the awards that come along with the achievements we've had. Of course, that's motivating us to keep doing better as well."

Schools must meet both state and federal mandates to qualify for a Title I Academic Achievement Award. Every group of students — including English-learners, special education and low income — must score highly enough to meet the guidelines of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

At the same time, the entire school and low-income students must show adequate progress on the Academic Performance Index.

"We are so proud of them," Newport-Mesa district assessment director Peggy Anatol said. "They're the model."

The achievements of College Park and Victoria come in a year when three of Newport-Mesa's Title I schools — Pomona and Wilson elementary schools and TeWinkle Middle School — are undergoing federal sanctions due to their lagging test scores.

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