Sunny Hills Elementary named ‘Great School’

October 13, 2009

By Christopher Huber

Students, teachers and administrators have a lot to be happy about this month after recently being recognized for continued academic improvement.Sunny Hills Elementary School was named a “Great School” at a Schools of Distinction luncheon Sept. 26 in Renton. The award goes to the top 5 percent of schools statewide that show the greatest improvement on the math and reading portions of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning over the past five years, according to the Center for Educational Effectiveness.

“We’re really excited to have this award,” said Sunny Hills Principal Sarah White. “I like that it’s based on several years of success. It just shows the dedication of our students, of our staff and of our families.”

This year, 104 schools earned the distinction. Sunny Hills garnered the award for the first time.

White and Sue Mills, executive director of the Center for Educational Effectiveness, acknowledge the irony that Sunny Hills got the “Great Schools” award, but did not reach the federal benchmarks mandated by No Child Left Behind this year.

“They (OSPI) tried to get away from all politics as much as they could and tried to recognize pure effort in reading and math,” Mills said.

The award is based on scores from the fourth- seventh- and 10th-grade math and reading WASL. To be considered, the schools had to exceed the 2009 state average and show continued score improvement over the past five years, Mills said

“They are improving enormously, and they keep up that pace and they’ll be exactly where they need to be,” Mills said.

The state average for fourth-graders meeting the standard on the math WASL in 2008-2009 was 52.3 percent, according to the Washington State Report Card. At Sunny Hills, about 89 percent of fourth-graders passed the math exam.

More than 73 percent of Washington fourth-graders passed the reading WASL. At Sunny Hills, 96.4 percent passed.

White said the Issaquah School District and the Issaquah Schools Foundation have provided teachers with ample resources to continue their focus on every child as an individual.

Sunny Hills has developed an annual Continuous Learning Plan, which includes new programs like the Young Authors Celebration Week, Benchmark Enrichment Learning for extra reading support and teacher collaboration to implement the Everyday Math curriculum, Mills said in a press release.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or Comment at

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