Before school starts Tuesday, April 23, the Idyllwild School faculty and Principal Matt Kraemer stand before the play area. The school will receive its second consecutive Title I Academic Achievement Award this year. Standing in front are (from left) Christy Tilley (middle school, language arts), Sally Salter (3rd grade), Donna Mercer (middle school, special education), Connie Chavez (2nd grade), Dani Baraty (middle school, math) and George Companiott (middle school social studies and language arts). In the top row are (from left) Vicki Kyriss (2nd and 3rd grade combo), Lenore Sazer (middle school, science and math), Kraemer and Tom Dillon (5th grade). Photo by J.P. Crumrine

Last week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that Idyllwild School was one of 56 California public schools that achieved sustained progress in academic improvement among low-income students. As a result, it has been chosen for the 2012-13 Title I Academic Achievement Award.

This is the second consecutive year Idyllwild has been named a Title I Achievement school. In 2012, 117 California schools were honored. Idyllwild School and Stone Avenue Elementary, part of Jurupa Unified School District, are the only Riverside County schools honored this year.

The Title I Academic Achievement Award is given only to schools receiving federal Title I funds as authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Title I is the single largest federal educational program for K-12 public education. Title I funds assist schools in meeting the educational needs of students living at or below the poverty line. Of the more than 9,000 schools in California, more than 6,000 of them participate in the Title I program.

The criteria to qualify for the Title I award have become more rigorous in recent years. To qualify for this distinction, a school must demonstrate that all students are making significant progress toward proficiency on California’s academic content standards. Additionally, the school’s socio-economically disadvantaged students must have doubled the achievement targets set for them for two consecutive years.

“The Title I Achievement Award for Idyllwild School is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Barry Kayrell, Hemet Unified School Superintendent. “The subgroups haven’t performed as well and for the kids to have moved up and met targets and been proficient is great, truly great.”

Idyllwild Principal Matt Kraemer was also proud of his teachers and students. “We target the students we felt were on the border of [being] proficient,” he explained. “And also students who might move up to the next quintile.”

In order to be eligible for the 2013 Academic Achievement Award, schools must meet many criteria, including having 40 percent of their students classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged in both 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Testing results criteria include making adequate yearly progress in 2011 and 2012 without being identified as needing program improvement in either 2011-12 or in 2012-13.

The school’s Academic Performance Index must exceed 817 (Idyllwild’s API was 896). In addition, the school must meet its school-wide API target and the API targets for all numerically significant subgroups, as well as for socio-economically disadvantaged students, in both 2010-11 and 2011-12.