Occoquan Elementary has been named a National Title I Distinguished School.
In order to be given this designation, schools must “demonstrate a wide array of strengths, including team approaches to teaching and learning, focused professional development opportunities for staff, individualized programs for student success and strong partnerships between the school, parents and the community,” according to the National Title I Association’s website.
This is the first time a Prince William County school will receive this national award.
This distinction for the school is important not only for what it symbolizes in terms of student performance, but also comes in light of the challenges that many students at Occoquan Elementary students face.
“The school has reached national prominence with its latest award. The student population includes 67.4 percent eligible for free and reduced lunch, 53 percent English language learners, and 12 percent identified for special education services,” stated a release.
More on the school’s structure and programs, from a release:
Students enjoy two recesses daily; teachers use microphones through their audio-enhanced classrooms to help English learners; unlimited field trips enrich student experiences; mentors are role models and tutors; and online programs as well as a take-home tablet program keep learning active during lab time, classroom instruction, and at home. Families are continuously kept up to date on student grades and progress. Teacher professional development is also continuous, including during the summer.
Occoquan Elementary has earned multiple PWCS School of Excellence Awards and is fully accredited under Virginia’s accountability program. Over four years, the Standards of Learning pass rate for economically disadvantaged students increased from 59 percent to 87 percent. In math, scores for this group increased from a 79 percent pass rate to 94 percent, topping the state average of 66 percent by 28 percentage points. Pass rates for English language learners and students with disabilities also have soared. Scores for those with disabilities increased by 40 percent, from 52 percent in reading to a 72 percent pass rate, far above the state average of 46 percent. Math pass rates for this group in just two years rose from 62 percent to 85 percent.
“Occoquan has always been a school staffed by those willing to go the extra mile, those that build a family within the walls of the school, and those that believe they have a mission and not a job. We have created a high octane, high achieving, caring and nurturing educational environment. No one student belongs to any one teacher; we are all responsible for all our students, as a grade, as a team, and as a school. We win this as a team. We could not be more proud to represent Prince William County Public Schools and the Occoquan community as a National Title I Distinguished School,” stated Occoquan Elementary Principal Hamish Brewer in a release.
The school will be recognized during the National Association of State Title I Directors’ conference in February.