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West Point school part of winning grant proposal

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Editorial: Dec. 27, 2012

THE ISSUE: Race to the Top grant
OUR VIEW: Good news keeps coming for West Point school

Many business leaders believe performance depends on two keys things, competence and commitment.

Concerning commitment, almost always, a person dedicated to their work gets better results. And understanding their role in a business objective and seeing their work has meaning feeds that commitment.

In a similar arena as these ideas, one local school will be able to focus on creating student buy-in as a beneficiary of a federal Race to the Top grant.

West Point Independent School is one of 22 districts to receive a piece of a $40 million grant secured through the Green River Regional Education Cooperative.

The cooperative, which provides services such as professional development and buying power to its 250 member schools, was one of 16 entities to earn a Race to the Top grant. The proposal, the only winning application from Kentucky, must have struck those scoring the plans. The U.S. Department of Education received 372 applications in this district — or cooperative — competition.

Of the $400 million given out, $40 million is expected to go to the co-op.

The grants are to build on the Race to the Top state grant program and proposals were to show how schools would personalize education and provide educators with tolls that help them best meet students’ needs, according to an education department news release.

The heart of the Green River Regional Education Cooperative plan is to implement practices in which students understand their role while at school and take responsibility for that role, said Johna Rodgers, a grant writer at the co-op.

West Point Independent School principal Lee Ann Mik described the plan as allowing students to “take more ownership of their own learning,” and also noted the district will be able to change outdated teaching strategies.

It seems most of the great strides we hear about in education center on the competence of teachers and students. Turning some focus to student commitment could be a profound experience. Using the business world as an example, it makes good sense.

Congratulations to the co-op and the small West Point school is securing a piece of this coveted funding, and good luck in implementing the plan.

The grant is part of a stream of recent successes for West Point students and educators.

Last month, the first year of results from the Unbridled Learning accountability model indicated the school is undergoing a significant transformation. With some of the lowest scores in the state in certain areas during the prior year, the school tied for the 16th highest scoring of Kentucky’s 174 public school districts.

Testing in a new, more rigorous system, the school earned a score of 63.5, on a 100-point scale, clutching a spot among the top 10 percent of districts and, therefore, distinguished status.

School officials noted a new reading program, a focus on comprehension in social studies, aligning classroom practices with new standards and staff development resulted in better performance on the statewide tests.

The educators, students, parents and other school partners involved should be proud of this leap forward and look forward to measuring greater success with the resources the Race to the Top grant will provide.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.