Topsham elementary school earns national honor

Posted Sept. 24, 2013, at 2:16 p.m.

TOPSHAM, Maine — Topsham’s Williams-Cone School has been named the state’s only National Blue Ribbon School for double-digit increases in student proficiency.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Tuesday announced that the school is one of 236 public schools across the country recognized for students who performed at very high levels or showing significant improvements in performance.

Between the 2007-2008 school year and the 2011-2012 school year, Williams-Cone students increased proficiency in the state assessment from 66 percent to 81 percent in reading and 66 percent to 77 percent in math, according to a release from the Maine Department of Education.

Students in third grade showed particularly significant improvement, with students scoring higher than proficiency increasing from 26 percent to 51 percent in math and from 3 percent to 37 percent in reading.

The Maine Department of Education reported that Williams-Cone showed “remarkable growth” among “its most struggling 25 percent of students,” with 77.1 percent improving in math and 69 percent in reading.

“The Williams-Cone School is committed to high student achievement and has the results to prove it,” Maine Deputy Education Commissioner Jim Rier said in a statement issued Tuesday. “This blue ribbon is just the latest well-deserved recognition for this school that is continuously improving because of its dedication to supporting the success of every child, no matter their challenges. The students, staff and community of Williams-Cone should be proud of their excellence, and other schools in Maine should look to them as a shining example of effective, engaging learner-centered education.”

The release noted unusually challenging times for the school as Brunswick Naval Air Station closed, leading to the loss of students and a shift in student needs as former military housing became “public, low-income housing.”

The school will be honored at a November ceremony in Washington, D.C.

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