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Topsham elementary school nets national 'Blue Ribbon' award

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Topsham elementary school nets national 'Blue Ribbon' award

TOPSHAM — Williams-Cone School is one of 236 public schools in the country, and the only in Maine, to be named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School.

The U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School program honors public and private schools whose students achieve at significantly high levels or have made major progress and closed gaps in achievement, particularly among minority and disadvantaged students.

"The whole school community is excited to learn today that we are recipient of the ... award," Williams-Cone Principal Randa Rineer said Tuesday. "It's a real ... affirmation of all of the hard work that has been taking place for many years here."

The Maine Department of Education announced program nominees – which also included Longfellow Elementary School in Portland and Yarmouth Elementary School – last December.

Williams-Cone has students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

According to a press release from the Maine DOE, 81 percent of students at the school met the proficiency level or greater on the state's reading assessment in the 2011-12 school year, up from 66 percent in 2007-08. In math, 77 percent hit that standard, also up from 66 percent.

Third-grade students who scored higher than proficient in math rose from 26 percent in 2007-08 to 51 percent in 2011-12. In reading, the improvement during that time was from 3 percent to 37 percent.

On top of that, the school earned an "A" in the Maine DOE's School Performance Grading System.

"The Williams-Cone School is committed to high student achievement and has the results to prove it," Maine Deputy Education Commissioner Jim Rier said in a press release. "This blue ribbon is just the latest well-deserved recognition for this school that is continuously improving because of its dedication to supporting the success of every child, no matter their challenges."

The U.S. DOE will honor Williams-Cone and the other Blue Ribbon schools in November in Washington, D.C.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.