Three county schools show #039;promise#039;

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2003

Three Lawrence County schools were among the 52 Schools of Promise recognized by State Superintendent Susan Tave Zelman.

The schools were honored for overcoming local economic climates to still achieve academic success.

Despite poverty levels of 50 percent or higher, the schools scored 75 percent or higher on the 2001-2002 proficiency tests in the subjects of math or reading. Each school also met several other requirements to be eligible.

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Dawson-Bryant's ninth-grade class scored an 84.9 percent pass rate in reading and a 75.2 percent in math. Dawson-Bryant's fourth grade had a 91.8 percent

pass rate in reading.

Ironton Middle School had an 83.5 percent and 76.4 percent pass rates in the math tests at the fourth- and sixth-grade levels.

Symmes Valley Elementary had a 81.8 percent and 78.6 percent pass rate for the fourth- and sixth-grade reading tests.

"These schools demonstrate that demographics should not determine a student's academic destiny," Zelman said in a written release. "Students can achieve and succeed no matter where they live. These schools show promise for all students across the state."

Symmes Valley Elementary Principal Bob Harris said that it is nice to see that all of the hard work has paid off.

"I think it is good that our students, teachers and parents know that if you apply yourself, you can do a good job," he said. "That is what is gratifying for me."

Harris said he does not like to focus on the financial state of the county because it should not affect the quality of education.

"People use (poverty) as an excuse instead of doing their best and rising above it," he said.

Dawson-Bryant Super-intendent James Payne said they, too, have a no-excuses policy when it comes to providing a quality education.

"I think it is a validation of all the hard work

our teachers put forward and the cooperation of vertical teaming from grade to grade, teacher to student and teacher to parents," he said. "It is a combination of all the efforts and programs at all the schools and really makes us feel like we are on the right track."

The district has set the goals and all the schools have worked long hours to reach them, Payne said.

"We have high expectations here," Payne said. "The students and teachers have met the challenge."

Bill Dressel, acting principal at Ironton Middle School from 2001 to 2003, agreed that the teachers and students are the ones who earned the recognition.

"The teachers are the ones who deserve the credit. They are on the front lines," he said. "It reflects on the job the teachers have done. The kids have been very receptive and done well."

The Schools of Promise program follows the Ohio Board Of Education's recommendation to recognize schools that close achievement gaps despite financial limitations so other schools can learn how these have been successful.