Penns Valley Area middle and high schools were ranked in the top 5 percent in the state in school performance.
The announcement was made publicly by Penns Valley Area School District Superintendent Brian Griffith earlier this month.
Penns Valley received the “Reward School” designation for being among the top 5 percent highest performing schools in the state that receive Title I support, and had the highest absolute performance on state assessments during a review over a number of years, Griffith said.
Title I is a 100 percent federally funded supplemental education program that provides financial aid for eligible students, according to the state Department of Education.
It’s an achievement Principal Dustin Dalton said is a feat for the district, but one that will be difficult to maintain.
“That’s the hard part,” Dalton said.
“Once you’re on the top, it’s hard to stay there, but we’ll do everything we can to help our teachers and students progress.”
Dalton said the schools ranked in the top 15 percent last year.
“Student success often starts at home, and we find we have good supportive families that lead to successful academics,” Dalton said.
He said administration will focus on test and classroom data, and break down the areas of weakness and figure out how to improve.
One area the school is working on is its math program.
“As a faculty, we’re continuing to work on math and Algebra 1 testing that’s a big struggle for us,” Dalton said.
“As a department, we want to identify the whys and fix it with remediation and acceleration, identify student weaknesses and help give them the skills they need.”
The designation qualifies the district to apply for grant money that would be put toward services to enhance education and student achievement, Dalton said.
Dalton said the designation came as a result of hard work from teachers, students and parents.
“They’re extremely academically motivated students who don’t always see the purpose of a designation like this, but are working hard,” Dalton said.
“We do have good kids — not that we don’t have the occasional problems like anyone else — but for the most part, (they) are coming from supportive families and being taught by the best faculty in the state. I’d put them up against anyone.”