Local schools honored for "beating the odds."

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Thursday, September 5, 2013

DELAVAN—It's been a good summer for the Delavan-Darien School District.

In June, Phoenix Middle School was names a “School of Merit” for its efforts in improving student behavior.

Early this week, the high school learned it had posted its second-highest ACT scores 20 years and had beat the state's average test score.

Then on Thursday, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction announced Phoenix Middle School was awarded a Wisconsin Title 1 Schools of Recognition Award in the Beating the Odds category.

The award was one of 167 statewide. Wisconsin has 2,191 schools, putting the winners in the top 7 percent in the award categories.

Title 1 is federal funding that schools receive from the federal government if they have significant numbers of children getting free or reduced-cost lunch.

Schools in the Beating the Odds category are in the top 25 percent of high poverty schools in the state and have above average student achievement in reading and mathematics when compared to schools from similar-sized districts, schools, grade configurations and poverty levels.

“The staff and administration of these schools are committed to breaking the link between poverty and low academic achievement through rigorous programming and attention to student needs,” Evers said in a news release.

Several schools in Janesville also are on the list. Lincoln Elementary has received the award five years running.

It's a first for the Delavan-Darien School District, however.  It's a special achievement for the district because 24 percent of its students are English language learners. That means English isn't their first language. That percentage is the third-highest in the state.

Phoenix Middle School Principal Mark Weerts credits staff and students for their extra work, both in academics and behavioral issues.

“I am very proud of the work they've done, and they truly are deserving of this award,” Weerts said.

As an award-winner, representatives from the school will attend a recognition ceremony with State Superintendent Evers at the State Capitol Rotunda at noon Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Winning schools will receive $500 prizes and commemorative plaques. Teachers also are eligible to compete for the Wisconsin Title I Schools of Recognition Teacher Fellowship Program, which funds professional development opportunities.

Other local winners include:

-- High progress schools: Roosevelt  Elementary School, Janesville; Williams Bay High School, Williams Bay.

-- Beating the odds schools: Edison and Franklin middle schools, Janesville; Jackson, Lincoln and Madison elementary schools, Janesville; Burdge, Converse, Gaston and Robinson elementary schools and the Roy Chapman Andrews Academy, all in Beloit.

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