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McGrath overcomes poverty

Posted: December 20, 2008 7:15 p.m.
Updated: December 21, 2008 4:55 a.m.
McGrath Elementary School was named a Title I-achieving school by State Superintendent of Instruction Jack O'Connell.

McGrath is the only school in the Santa Clarita Valley to receive the honor.

The Title I award is part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and is given to poverty-stricken schools that show two or more years of academic progress, or to those that significantly close the achievement gap between achieving and non-achieving students.

Schools are judged based on California's Academic Performance Index scores, which determine whether the school receives future Title I funding.

Title I funding is designated to schools where 40 percent or more of the student population lives in poverty. Three quarters of McGrath's students fall into that category.

O'Connell phoned Principal Larry Heath Dec. 10 with the news that the school had won the award.

Heath said he was particularly proud of his students who raised the school's API more than 50 points to 833 last year.

"We (at McGrath) are all part of a special experience that few realize in public education," Heath said. "My teachers are doing what they do for their own children. They do whatever it takes to ensure achievement for every student."

Heath said the students are at the center of every staff member's focus.

Marc Winger, Newhall School District superintendent, said McGrath's staff is enabling its students' success.
"Our teachers, the principal and students work hard to achieve, and we welcome this recognition," he said.

To celebrate the students' 2008 state testing API scores, third through sixth graders enjoyed a private showing of "The Tale of Despereaux" at the Town Center Edwards Cinema Friday. Buses were paid for by the Parent Teacher Association.

O'Connell described McGrath and other winning schools as creative.

"These outstanding schools have shown that with hard work and tight focus, the challenges of poverty, language and socioeconomic background can be overcome," he said.


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