Rich Acres Elementary School Earns Highest National Honor
Rich Acres Elementary School is one of six public schools in Virginia to be named a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools whose students achieve at very high levels or have made significant progress and helped close gaps in achievement, especially among disadvantaged and minority students. The program is part of a larger U. S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about best school leadership and teaching practices.
Rich Acres Elementary School has consistently been ranked among the state's highest performing schools. Based on the results of the VA SOL tests, Rich Acres has exceeded the state requirements and has been Fully Accredited for the past seven years (since the inception of accreditation by the state). In addition to meeting the state requirements, Rich Acres has far exceeded the state standards (70% passing). Students' passing scores in reading and mathematics have consistently increased from the 90th percentile towards a school goal of 100%. The 2009-2010 VA SOL reading test results were 97% passing and 99% passing in mathematics.
"America's long-term economic prosperity and civic engagement depends on our children receiving a world-class education," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "National Blue Ribbon Schools are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their success is an example for others to follow."
The achievements and 2011 National Blue Ribbon School recognition of Rich Acres Elementary School is a direct result of the efforts and dedication to excellence by the students, teachers, parents, administration, and community for the past several years. Under the leadership of principals Mr. Bill Bullins (1992 to 2008), Mrs. Elizabeth Minter (2008 to 2011), and Mrs. Elizabeth Hussey (2011 to present), Rich Acres has successfully closed the achievement gaps for all students. In fact, there are no achievement gaps between the test scores of all students and any of the subgroups (socio-economically disadvantaged, African-American, Hispanic, Caucasian, students with disabilities, and limited English proficiency). In 75% of the comparisons between the scores of all students and the subgroups, the subgroup scores are identical or exceed the scores of all students.
"It is such an honor for Rich Acres Elementary School to receive the 2011 National Blue Ribbon Award. We are very proud to be the first school in Henry County to receive this prestigious award. An amazing team of teachers, staff, students, families, administration, and community members work collaboratively everyday to take care of the academic, emotional, and physical needs of each individual student. Even with this national achievement, the goal of Rich Acres Elementary School will continue to be to aid our students in becoming lifelong learners and respectful citizens," said Rich Acres Elementary School Principal Mrs. Elizabeth Hussey.
In addition to strong leadership, all staff (current and previous) are committed to challenging all students and continuously striving towards the goal of 100% student success. The percentage of pass advanced scores (500-600) in reading on the VA SOL tests has increased 11% for a current rate of 43%. The percentage of pass advanced scores in mathematics has increased as much as 33% for a current rate of 64%. The increase of pass advanced scores complements the school division's commitment to the Rigor and Relevance Framework® -- to extend and challenge students with more rigorous instruction tied to real world opportunities for application.
Rich Acres has also met all AYP requirements for the past seven years. In addition to meeting and surpassing Federal benchmarks, Rich Acres received the 2008 and 2009 Distinguished Title I School Award for making AYP for two consecutive years. Rich Acres was also recognized by Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine for three consecutive years (2008, 2009, and 2010) through the Virginia Index of Performance (VIP) incentive program created by the Virginia Board of Education in 2007 to advance Governor Kaine's "competence to excellence" agenda and promoting advanced learning and achievement. Most recently, Rich Acres was recognized with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's highest honor, the Governor's Award of Educational Excellence. Only 6% of schools in Virginia received this distinction.
"Rich Acres' motto, "Where excellence surpasses achievement" encapsulates the division's vision statement - Henry County Public Schools where critical thinking is expected, creativity is nurtured, technology and innovation are embraced, and learning is celebrated. The faculty, staff, and administration at Rich Acres recognize and accept the purposes of education for elementary schools as stated in the Standards of Quality for Public Schools in Virginia. The entire Rich Acres community is committed to providing learning experiences in the elementary school that will build a strong foundation for lifelong learning. Opportunities are provided for each student to develop to their fullest potential. On behalf of Henry County Public Schools, congratulations to the entire Rich Acres community," said Acting Superintendent Dr. David Martin.
Rich Acres Elementary School will be honored at an awards ceremony November 14-15, 2011 in Washington D.C. A list of the 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools is available at http://www.ed.gov/nationalblueribbonschools.