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Bester Elementary receives state recognition

March 06, 2006

The Maryland State Board of Education officially recognized Bester Elementary School last week for being one of two schools statewide to be named a 2005 National Title I Distinguished School, according to a press release from Washington County Public Schools.

Bester received the designation by posting the highest achievement gains of all state Title I schools among the student groups identified by the No Child Left Behind Act on the Maryland School Assessment in 2005. School officials attributed Bester's work at closing the achievement gap to focused, frequent and layered services and support to improve daily instruction in Bester's classrooms, according to the press release.

The press release also credited the regular, on-site professional development provided to the staff, the rigorous instructional program and the strategic use of benchmarking and data analysis in achieving these results.

Targeted school improvement initiatives have been under way at Bester since 2003, when the school was placed on the state's "alert" list. If test scores had not significantly improved, the school was in danger of placement into the state's School Improvement Process. Test scores did improve as a result of the additional assistance provided to Bester's staff.

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In addition, restructuring of the school occurred during the 2005-06 school year in order to provide more time for on-site staff development that further supports continued increases in student achievement, according to the press release.

Each year, the state departments of education across the country analyze the assessment results of Title I schools to determine the two schools in each state to be honored, according to the press release. Bester received the honor for "Closing the Achievement Gap Between Subgroups." Preston Elementary School in Caroline County was honored for "Exceptional Student Performance for Two or More Years," according to the press release.

Kathy Stiles, principal of Bester Elementary School; schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan; Board of Education member Russell Williams; and Trudy Mackrell-Metz, coordinator of the Judy Center, attended the state ceremony.

Stiles and Title I coordinator Melissa Williams attended the National Title I Conference in late January to accept the award, but locally, the announcement was delayed until after the State Board's recognition.

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