Five Howard County schools have been honored as Four Star Schools, the highest distinction given by the Indiana Department of Education.

Northwestern High School, Northwestern Middle School, Northwestern Elementary School, Eastern Elementary School and Kokomo-Center’s Sycamore Elementary were among the 179 schools statewide honored. Swayzee Elementary, in the Oak Hill United School Corp., also was on the Four Star list for the 2007-08 school year.

All of the honored schools also were Four Star schools for 2006-07, except for Northwestern Middle School.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Suellen Reed said the award is based on student achievement on ISTEP+ assessments and overall attendance rates.

“We are pleased to recognize 179 Indiana schools for their exceptionally high performance,” said Reed. “We would also like to acknowledge the work of those schools that were fractions of a point away from this honor and applaud them for their efforts. We encourage all Hoosier schools to continue in their endeavors to boost student success.”

Kokomo-Center Superintendent Chris Himsel said he was pleased Sycamore Elementary was honored.

“I’m very proud of all the accomplishments we have, and we’re very pleased with the accomplishment Sycamore has had being recognized by the state of Indiana.”

Northwestern Elementary Principal Ron Owings said this is the fifth year in a row his school has received Four Star recognition, and he thinks it is the 12th time in 15 years.

He said the dedication of the school’s teachers are a factor in the award.

“I am sincerely thankful to work with such talented people who make it their life’s work to do great things for kids.”

Eastern Superintendent Tracy Caddell also gave credit to teachers.

“This award would not be possible without dedicated staff members who strive for excellence in our students. Every staff member is to be commended for this outstanding achievement.”

According to the department of education, 1,819 Indiana public schools were eligible for the Four Star award. To earn the distinction, a school must be accredited by the Indiana State Board of Education, meet Adequate Yearly Progress as defined by The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and perform in the top 25 percent of all the schools in the state in each of the following four areas: Student attendance rates, mathematics proficiency scores, English/language arts proficiency scores and the percent of students passing both English/language arts and mathematics.

Danielle Rush may be reached at (765) 454-8585 or via e-mail at danielle.rush@kokomotribune.com

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