Pleasant Valley, South River Lauded As ‘Distinguished’

Posted: January 19, 2013

HARRISONBURG — Two Rockingham County elementary schools are among 46 schools and one school division across the state being commended for educating economically disadvantaged students.
The Virginia Department of Education announced Thursday that South River Elementary School in Grottoes and Pleasant Valley Elementary School, which is in Harrisonburg but is part of the Rockingham County Schools division, raised academic achievement for economically disadvantaged students in the 2011-12 and 2010-11 school years. Both schools also were on the list last year.
“Having received this award in previous years it was unsure that we would have the same outcome this year,” Pleasant Valley Principal Paula Frazier wrote in an email. “Needless to say we all celebrated this accomplishment today.”
Title I is a federal program that divvies out funds to schools to provide additional assistance and special programs for students in high-poverty areas.
Funding for Title I is determined based on enrollment, the percentage of students who receive free or reduced-price lunches and other data.
South River was one of nine Virginia schools to be named a “Title I highly distinguished school,” meaning it exceeded all state and federal accountability standards and average scores on Standards of Learning tests in English and math were at or above the 85th percentile.
“I was humbled when I realized that only nine schools earned the highly distinguished award and we were among them,” Shifflett wrote in an email.
At South River, half the school’s approximately 360 students receive free or reduced-price lunch.
Pleasant Valley is a “Title I distinguished school,” meaning it also met all state and federal accountability requirements and was in the 60th percentile for its reading and math SOL scores. Pleasant Valley has about 220 students, and 58 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch.
Frazier and Shifflett attribute the academic successes partially to having teaching approaches that focus on individual children.
“Our faculty teaches with their heads and their hearts, which creates positive relationships and provides quality instruction,” Shifflett wrote.
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-2686 or

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