Oak Hill Named State's Title I School of the Year

Oak Hill Elementary Principal Ashton Clemmons was surprised on Thursday when the school was named North Carolina's Title I High Progress School of the Year as part of the state's Title I Distinguished Schools Recognition program. As the winner, Oak Hill received a total of $32,500 and will represent the state at the National Title I Conference in Nashville, Tenn. from Jan. 21-24, 2013.

In just two years, Oak Hill has experienced dramatic academic improvements. In 2010, the school was considered one of the lowest-performing schools in the state and had been awarded a $2.9 million federal School Improvement Grant for reform. During the 2010-11 school year, the school raised its End-of-Grade (EOG) performance composite by 19.4 percentage points. In the following year, Oak Hill's EOG performance composite increased by 5 percentage points. Much of the transformation of the school also comes from increased community and parent involvement.

Three of the four nominees in the high progress category came from Guilford County Schools (GCS). Joining Oak Hill were Gillespie Park Elementary and High School Ahead Academy, which were each awarded $20,000. The state noted that High School Ahead was the first alternative-learning school recognized by the Title I Distinguished Schools program. 

"We are extremely proud of these three schools," said Kelly Hales, executive director of federal and special programs. "It's incredible to have three of the four nominees come from GCS and it is a true reflection of the effort our schools are making to improve student achievement and student growth."

The state identified 81 Title I schools as highest-performing and 39 as high progress. The top 10 percent of each were invited to submit portfolios that identify best practices that contribute to the school's success. 

The National Title I Distinguished Schools Recognition Program is a project sponsored by the National Association of State Title I Directors (NASTID). The purpose of the project is to highlight Title I schools from each state that have exhibited exceptional student performance. Each year, schools are recognized in one of two categories - high progress or sustained high student performance. 

North Carolina has recognized Title I schools through the program since 1996. Oak Hill became the first school named a winner since 2004 when Hunter Elementary earned the title.