Frankford Elementary garners award


After again receiving the state’s highest accountability rating following another year of impressive test scores, Frankford Elementary School officials received more good news Tuesday. The Indian River school will receive a $10,000 grant, as well as a host of materials and supplies, after being named one of 16 Intel and Scholastic Schools of Distinction across the nation.

“It’s a great honor for the school,” Principal Duncan Smith said, adding that the school continues to thrive despite the low income levels of the majority of students. (Almost 75 percent of Frankford students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.) “Our teachers do a great job of providing excellent instruction and support for students when they need it.”

Intel — a “leader in silicon innovation” — and Scholastic, a children’s media and publishing company, collaborated three years ago to form the award, which recognizes and promotes excellence in schools nationwide. Frankford Elementary officials will attend an awards banquet in Washington, D.C., on the first weekend of October.

“The goal of the awards are to recognize best practices in education,” Scholastic spokeswoman Jennifer Slackman said. “The innovative work that schools are doing can be recognized and replicated.”

Slackman said that hundreds of schools across the nation applied for the honor, which is awarded to schools based on their ability to “demonstrate excellence in implementing innovative, replicable programs supporting positive educational outcomes,” according to www.schoolsofdistinction.com.

Frankford won the award in the Academic Achievement category. Awards are handed out to schools in that category based on factors such as improvements on test scores and graduation rates, according to the Web site. Schools applying for that award must explain how they overcame barriers to achieve success, it says.

“It wasn’t that this is a school that has always done well,” Slackman said Tuesday. “They really have made a concerted effort to focus on instruction and professional development. It’s shown with their test scores.”

In 1998, only 61 percent of third-grade students at Frankford Elementary met the state standard on the reading test, according to state data available on the Delaware Department of Education Web site at www.doe.k12.de.us. Only 52 percent of fifth-graders did the same. In 2005 — the most recent testing scores studied by the judging committee — 100 percent of third- and fifth-grade Frankford students met that standard, according to Smith.

Some 98 percent of the third-graders met the reading standard on the 2006 test — the results of which were released recently — while more than 95 percent of the school’s fifth-graders did the same. Math scores — which are almost equally as impressive — as well as other Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP) data are available on the DSTP page at the state department’s site.

“Frankford Elementary School has evolved from a school that no parent would consider to be a “school of choice” to one of the most heralded in southeastern Sussex County, Delaware,” Slackman wrote in a Tuesday press release. She cited the school’s diversity (38 percent Hispanic and 27 percent black, according to that release) and its programs for English language learners, the hard-of-hearing and deaf, and mentally handicapped children.

“Year after year, the teachers at Frankford have used test data to adjust their instruction and have worked diligently to prepare students to achieve high levels on the Delaware state assessment and their hard work is evidenced by the results. The past eight years of data shows that Frankford’s students have exhibited continuous growth,” Slackman said.