Late last month, Sugar Creek Elementary School received good news from the Department of Public Instruction: it was awarded “Recognized School” status for its progress in expansion, refinement and continued implementation of a support system for improving student achievement in reading, math, and behavior.
On June 24, the elementary school at 740 North Main Street received official notification that it had been awarded silver in all three categories: math, reading, and behavior. For each category, they had to submit artifacts and evidence to prove to the state review board that they had met the benchmarks.
“Congratulations to Sugar Creek Elementary School for your efforts in implementing an equitable, tiered support system,” the letter reads. “Creating a system that meets the needs of all students is rewarding work that requires the determination of your school community. The work done by your school community lays a solid foundation for the future expansion and refinement of your equitable multi-level support system. »
Sugar Creek has been recognized by the Wisconsin Response to Intervention (Rtl) Center and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Funded by the Wisconsin DPI, the Wisconsin Rtl Center supports schools and districts by providing statewide training and technical assistance. Its mission is to “strengthen the ability of Wisconsin schools to develop and maintain equitable multilevel support systems to ensure the success of all students.”
The Center’s Recognized Schools program celebrates academic progress in expanding, refining, and sustaining the implementation of a support system for improved student achievement. Schools are recognized at bronze, silver, gold, or platinum level in the content areas of reading, math, and behavior.
Levels indicate implementation progress. Silver means “at full implementation or fidelity in a content area at the Universal level for at least two years and at the Selected level for at least one year”.
“Their letter to us noted Sugar Creek’s progress with historically marginalized student groups, which is a wonderful testament to the dedication and hard work of our staff at a particularly difficult time – during a pandemic – to help students progress in their studies,” Sugar Creek principal Todd Brunner told reporters.
He said applying for this award is optional and as it is difficult, it is not common.
Principal Brunner, Sugar Creek School Psychologist Charlene Cardona-Avelares, and Dean of Students Laura Marquardt led the lengthy application process.
Meeting the criteria is difficult because it means changing a school’s systems and staff mindsets in order to reimagine how their school operates, Brunner said.
“For example, part of our success in math is tied to our work with small, focused groups of students using data, a school-wide team structure called Professional Learning Communities, a strong new curriculum called Bridges and the ongoing professional development of all staff on the new state math standards,” he told reporters.
They placed the money in the three available categories.
“Although we want the gold and know we can get it next year, we are very proud of the silver and the state responded that our evidence showed ‘improved outcomes’ for student learners English, which is wonderful,” Brunner said.
A school must also be invited to apply.
“You can’t just search for that price,” Brunner said. “The Instruction Department notifies schools if they are eligible to apply.”
Brunner does not know if other VASD schools have been invited. Verona-area school district public information officer Marcie Pfeifer-Soderbloom told reporters that she was also not aware of other VASD schools that had applied.
This is not the first year that Sugar Creek has tried to win this award.
“We also tried other years,” Brunner said. “In fact, we have already won the gold medal.”
Sugar Creek Elementary has won 16 total local, state and national awards since 2013 for successes in health and wellness, math, reading and behavior, Brunner said.
There is no cost involved in applying. Each year, the school must respond. The designation is only valid for one year.
“It’s important to understand the directionality of work,” Pfeifer-Soderbloom added. “Sugar Creek has done the work to support and help students succeed. The award and recognition affirms this work and the results. Sugar Creek did not do the work of helping students earn recognition, but received recognition for good work that they would have done anyway, whether the award existed or not.
The school will receive a set of awards in recognition of their efforts as well as a toolkit to help the school share these achievements.
“Once again, congratulations to your entire school community,” the Wisconsin Department of Instruction wrote in its letter. “We look forward to supporting you in your continued success and helping you ensure that all of your students are college and career ready.”