Northeast Junior High School has been recognized as having a strong reading program.

Northeast Junior High School has been recognized as having a strong reading program.

The school has been awarded the Certificate of Merit for eight-grade reading as part of the eighth annual Challenge Awards. The awards are given annually by the Confidence In Kansas Public Education Task Force, a not-for-profit corporation whose stated purpose is “to strengthen confidence in Kansas public education and to increase awareness of the positive aspects of public education in this state.” The awards recognize Kansas schools that “are making a notable difference in student achievement despite facing significant challenges in their school population.” Recipients are chosen based on the state assessment results from 2010.

Eighth-grade reading teacher Wendy Neet said the reward valideates her students’ efforts.

“They did all the hard work,” Neet said. “I really appreciate it that they took it seriously. They’re an exceptional group of kids. They’re really bright.”

But Neet said teachers throughout the district deserve credit, too.

“It’s a validation of what’s been going on in the Northeast school system since they started kindergarten, not just eighth-grade,” Neet said.

The award compares schools from around the state. For each of the 14 state assessments, 70 Kansas schools were identified as high performing. From those schools, the top score from each of the 10 State Board regions is selected — using a statistical model that includes test results and the percent of students in the sample (minimum of 20 per sample) that received free or reduced lunches — for a Certificate of Merit. In all, 129 certificates were awarded to 58 school districts, with 30 buildings receiving two or more.

Superintendent Ronda Fincher said the award is a reflection of the entire district.

“It’s kind of an award for everybody, because it takes everyone to reach that level,” Fincher said.