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(Janesville, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette

Roosevelt Elementary School was named a national Blue Ribbon School on Tuesday, only the second time a Janesville public school has won the award.

Roosevelt Elementary is one of eight schools in Wisconsin and one of 337 nationally to be recognized, the U.S. Department of Education announced. Of those, 287 are public schools, and 50 are private. Roosevelt Elementary was nominated for the award in February.

Kennedy Elementary School was the only other Janesville public school to win the award. It received the honor in 2011.

St. Paul's Lutheran in Janesville won the award in 1992-93, and Evansville High School won in 2006.

"It's very important to thank everybody that helped with this effort," Principal Deanne Edlefsen said. "From the custodial staff to teaching staff, food service, office workers and, of course, families, students and our many volunteers here at Roosevelt. It truly is a community effort to receive this award."

The award recognizes schools for high learning performance or closing the achievement gap.

High performing schools are ones that finished in the top 15 percent in their state in reading and math on standardized tests.

Districts closing the achievement gap made improvements on state assessment scores for reading and math for its subgroups.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 52 percent of Roosevelt Elementary students are economically disadvantaged.

Despite the number of disadvantaged students, it was recognized for being an exemplary high-performing school for its high scores on reading and math tests.

Roosevelt scoring above its target scores in math and reading despite its economic status is a testament to the school and its staff, said Kim Ehrhardt, director of instructional services for the district.

A school's target score is determined by student performance on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations. From those results, an annual measurable objective score creates targets for individual schools.

"When you look at high-achieving schools, you have to have strong belief in the staff," Ehrhardt said. "You just can't fail here."

Ehrhardt said the school scored 9.3 percent above its target score in reading. Economically disadvantaged students finished 7.9 percent above the target.

In math, the school finished 18.2 percent above its target. Disadvantaged students finished 19.5 percent above the target, he said.

Between 2008 and 2013, Roosevelt students increased reading scores by 16 percent and math scores by 7 percent.

"There are only a handful of schools in each state that earn the Blue Ribbon honor each year," Tony Evers, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction superintendent, said in a written statement. "Winning this award is due in large part to the collaboration of teachers, school leaders and staff members as well as families and the school community. They work together to put student learning at the center of daily activity."

The Blue Ribbon Campaign began in 1982 and has recognized just under 7,900 of America's schools, according to the U.S Department of Education. Last year, 286 schools, seven in Wisconsin, earned the honor.

Roosevelt met academic objectives for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years to be selected.

Winners will receive a plaque and flag signifying their Blue Ribbon status. They will be honored Nov. 10-11 in Washington, D.C.

Roosevelt has also been noted as a Wisconsin School of Recognition, a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports School of Distinction and an Asian Society Confucius Classroom, which means it has one of the top 100 Chinese classrooms in the nation.

"These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education--that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative and challenging learning environments," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a written statement. "National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student."

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