Frankford school again rewarded for success


Frankford Elementary School has done it again. Adding to its long list of awards and honors, school officials learned earlier this month that, for the second year in a row after winning the national distinction, that the school has been named a Distinguished Title I school for the state of Delaware. School officials will attend a Delaware Department of Education ceremony in May at which they will be honored for the award.

“It’s a great honor for the school,” Frankford Elementary Principal Duncan Smith said. “We have a very dedicated staff.”

Title I funding is applied to schools that have students populations in extra need of support. Some 77 percent of Frankford’s students are now on the school’s free or reduced-price lunch program — a measure of poverty — and 38 percent of its population is Hispanic, many students coming to the school without much knowledge of the English language, Smith said. The number of non-English-speaking students is higher in kindergarten, he said.

According to the National Association of State Title I Directors Web site at www.titlei.org, the program has helped 150 million students and focuses mainly on math and reading — two areas of immense improvement at Frankford Elementary. Smith cited teaching specialists helping children at Frankford Elementary, its mentoring program — which now boasts about 150 community members who volunteer time to help students in need — and test scores as strong points of success for the school.

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. Some 98 percent of the third-graders met or exceeded the reading standard on the 2006 test. More than 95 percent of Frankford’s fifth-graders met or exceeded that standard, improving by more than 50 percent in eight years.

The school’s math scores, and improvement in that time period, are equally impressive. Only 52 percent of Frankford’s fifth-graders and 65 percent of its third-graders met the standard on the 1998 math test. Some 91 percent of Frankford’s fifth-graders and 92 percent of its third-graders met or exceeded the standard on the math test taken in the spring of this year.

Those scores, combined with the more than 70 percent free or reduced-lunch statistic and large non-native population, have earned Frankford respect and awards on the state and national levels.

In 2005, officials named Frankford Elementary a National Distinguished Title I School, and the school has followed that performance the last two years with the same distinction at the state level. Rich Long, a spokesman for the National Association of State Title I Directors, said that the association “asks for three years in between being recognized,” nationally to promote best practices in a variety of schools rather than continually focusing on the same schools.

Earlier this year, Frankford Elementary was named as one of the 16 Intel and Scholastic Schools of Distinction across the nation. 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 www.schoolsofdistinction.com. The school was again awarded the state’s loftiest accountability distinction of “superior” this fall and served as the feature school in April at a No Child Left Behind summit in Philadelphia, Smith said.

Smith will join officials from the United States Department of Education and educators from across the nation outside Washington in January for a roundtable discussion featured on a U.S. Department of Education television show which will be broadcast nationally.