Viers Mill Elementary School Named National Title I Distinguished School
The power of high expectations, the impact of quality staff members and support from parents and the community—all have come together to create a successful learning environment at Viers Mill Elementary School.
That success has been recognized with Viers Mill’s selection as a National Title I Distinguished School. Representatives of the winning schools from each state will be honored at the National Title I Conference, to be held in Nashville, Tenn., January 31-February 1, 2008.
Viers Mill serves 472 prekindergarten through grade 5 students from 19 countries. Sixty-seven percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, and 46 percent are learning English as a second language. The population includes Hispanic students (60.8 percent), African American students (14.7 percent), white students (12.6 percent) and Asian Amercian students (11.1 percent).
“We are greatly honored to receive this award,” said Principal Matt Devan. “Even with these challenges, our students have been very successful. We have been committed to closing the achievement gap, and we are the most proud of the fact that we are succeeding!”
Last year, students in all subgroups, including Hispanic, African American and special education, scored above 85 percent proficiency on the Maryland School Assessment, and several subgroups increased their percentage of advanced proficiency.
Viers Mill was the first Title I school in Montgomery County to have more than 70 percent of both third and fifth grade students reach proficiency levels in reading and math, based on results of the March 2004 Maryland School Assessments. When Maryland added the fourth grade to its benchmark levels the following year, the percentage of Viers Mill’s students mastering state standards climbed even higher, to 86.4 percent.
Those successes resulted in Viers Mill being named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the Maryland State Department of Education and a National No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School of 2005 by the U.S. Department of Education for making “significant progress in closing the achievement gap.”
Devan said that Viers Mill prides itself on a schoolwide focus on reading comprehension. “If you ask any student, staff or parent at Viers Mill ‘What is our goal?’ they will emphatically respond, ‘Read, Read, Read—Because Great Readers Have Great Choices.’”
Teachers are committed to uniformly high standards for increasing performance of all students. Staff members receive focused professional development through the use of study groups and extended team meetings.
The school has benefited from many systemwide initiatives, such as all-day kindergarten, reduced class size in primary grades, and an elementary school curriculum with clear standards taught by well-prepared teachers.
Viers Mill Elementary implements a schoolwide Title I program. Title I funding has allowed the school to reduce class size in upper grades and provide additional academic support during the day. The funding also has allowed the school to provide successful morning and after-school clubs for struggling students. Title I allocations provide a four-week summer program, extended day academic programs, supplemental teachers for English language learners, a part-time math content coach, and gifted and talented teacher, along with funds for family involvement. A pilot program to extend the school’s Head Start program to full-day was implemented this year.
The school nurtures strong partnerships with families and the community. For example, family learning nights are provided for parents. All school communication is provided in both English and Spanish. Viers Mill Elementary also benefits from business and community partnership with the Gazette newspapers; Linkages to Learning; Storage Village, which supports a supplemental food program for families; and the Ruth Rales Comcast Kids Reading Network.