The Yakima School District's McKinley Elementary School has received a 2016 Washington Achievement Award. This is huge for the school district. Superintendent Jack Irion explained it this way in a news release issued Friday:

McKinley is being honored for Closing the Achievement Gap (English Language Learners).

This is an extraordinary accomplishment and is a direct reflection of the hard work of our students, the dedication of our teachers, and the support and guidance of our parents. McKinley's award is well deserved. In the past year(s), McKinley has implemented several improvements that have impacted our students' success.

McKinley has focused on using data and making strategic changes to classroom instruction in order to close the achievement gap for ELL students. We have focused on learning more about student achievement levels and used that information to differentiate student learning in the classroom. McKinley has moved from a model where ELL students receive specialized instruction solely outside of the core classroom to a model of integrating language learning for all students during the core content time. Taking a language focused approach to teaching not only supports ELL students but all students. During this shift teachers at McKinley have grown more in their knowledge of the English Language Proficiency Standards and strategies to engage students in meaningful dialogue in the classroom. If you observed a classroom at McKinley you would find lessons rich in student to student discourse, teachers and students focused on using academic vocabulary, students using complete sentences or sentence stems, and students communicating their reasoning both orally and in writing.

The Washington Achievement Awards are sponsored by the Washington State Board of Education and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. They celebrate Washington's top-performing schools and recognize achievement in many categories. This highly-selective award is based on our school's performance on the Washington State Achievement Index.

The Washington Achievement Award is given in seven categories: Overall Excellence, High Progress, English Language Arts Growth, Math Growth, Extended Graduation Rate (high and comprehensive schools only) English Language Acquisition, and Achievement Gap.

I hope you will visit the OSPI Washington Achievement awards site to learn more about the awards and the criteria for selection.

The selection process for the Washington Achievement Award is very rigorous, and all of us take great pride in this accomplishment.


This is outstanding news for the Yakima Valley! We have really good schools!

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