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On Thursday of last week, Salida Superintendent David Blackburn represented the Salida School District at the Colorado State Capitol to accept two exciting awards for the District from the Colorado Department of Education.

The performance awards were for the 2021-22 school year, the first time the awards ceremony has been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Crest Academy was honored with The John Irwin Award which is based on high achievement. The Crest Academy is Salida School District’s alternative middle school program for grades 5-8.

“All of the students and staff at Crest have worked so hard throughout the year and are incredibly deserving of such a great achievement,” said The Crest Academy Principal Kristie Servis.”We are thankful for all of the district and community support.”

Longfellow Elementary School (LES) received The Governors Distinguished Improvement Award, which is based on growth scores between 3rd and 4th grade. LES Principal Cory Scheffel also expressed his pride for the dedication of his students and staff.

“We are thrilled to recognize the remarkable achievements of our schools and districts,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “This is a testament to the hard work by students, teachers, administrators, and the community who persevered under the extreme challenges brought by the pandemic. As we celebrate the success of these schools and districts, I want to extend my gratitude to their entire staff for their resilience and dedication to supporting students.”

“I am deeply proud of our staff and kiddos who keep performing so well,” said Blackburn. He added that these awards are especially exciting following the academic challenges presented by the pandemic.

The awards event celebrated schools and districts across Colorado that received awards in the following categories: Centers of Excellence, John Irwin School of Excellence, Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award, the Governor’s Bright Spot Award, Academic Growth Award, and Districts Accredited with Distinction.

A total of 382 awards were given to 61 districts and 310 schools. View the complete list of award winners here.

The Awards Were Established by the Colorado Legislature:

  • The Centers of Excellence Award recognizes schools that demonstrate the highest sustained rates of student longitudinal growth as measured by the Colorado Growth Model among those that have at least 75 percent at-risk students. In 2022, nine schools earned this award.
  • The John Irwin Award is given to schools that demonstrate excellent academic achievement. On the school performance framework, these schools “exceeded” expectations on the indicator for academic achievement over three years. In 2022, 182 schools earned this award.
  • The Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award is given to schools that demonstrate excellent student growth. On the school performance framework that is used by the state to evaluate schools, these schools “exceeded” expectations on the indicator related to longitudinal academic growth over three years. In 2022, 139 schools earned this award.
  • The Governor’s Bright Spot Award is for schools that demonstrated strong growth in student achievement through difficult times. To qualify for the grant, schools must have advanced more than two bands on their performance framework since 2019, earning $50,000 dollars of GEER funds for investments such as expanding student resources, faculty development, preparing and preventing public health emergencies and other opportunities that will benefit students’ learning experiences. In 2022, 21 schools received the award. Thirteen schools won the Math Bright Spot Award under a new initiative announced in March.
  • Accredited with Distinction Award is given to districts that earned 80 percent or more of possible points on the District Performance Frameworks. The District Performance Frameworks measure student performance in academic achievement, academic growth, academic growth gaps, and post-secondary and workforce readiness. Eleven districts received this award in 2022.
  • The High School Academic Growth Award recognizes high schools that demonstrate the highest levels of students’ academic growth in reading writing and math. Seven Colorado high schools received this award in 2022.

Featured image: Salida School Superintendent David Blackburn  accepting the John Irwin School of Excellence award and the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award, 2022-23.  Left to right, Principal Cory  Scheffel, Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes, Blackburn, and The Crest Academy Principal Kristie Servis.  Courtesy photo.