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Dallastown Elementary is one of two schools in Pennsylvania to be named a National Title I Distinguished School.

Each year, every state names two schools that have had exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years, have worked to close the achievement gap between student groups or have excellence in serving special populations of students. Schools are selected by their state education agency, in this case the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

According to the National Title I Association's website, the association has been selecting schools such as Dallastown Elementary since 1996. It particularly focuses on schools that have achieved student gains as a result of innovations in their buildings.

Dallastown Elementary Principal Charles Patterson said that the National Title I Association did not let the school know in which category it had won, but it could  be any of the three.

Nicole Reigelman, press secretary and communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said Dallastown Elementary was selected for high achievement for two or more consecutive years.

Dallastown Elementary's PSSA scores saw a huge jump between 2015 and 2016. On both the English language arts and math exam in 2016, no students scored  below basic. The number of students who scored as proficient or above on the ELA exam jumped from 89.1 percent in 2015 to 97.7 percent in 2016.

On the math exam, 73.9 percent of the students in the building scored as proficient or above in 2015. This number jumped to 87.8 percent of the students in 2016.

Meanwhile, Patterson said that the achievement gap has decreased in the building, as evidenced by the increase in PSSA scores across all students in the last several years despite more rigorous standards that were first introduced on the 2015 PSSA exams.

Finally, Patterson said the elementary school has a high population of special-needs students, all of whom have experienced growth in the last few years.

"I was very excited for the students and staff because they were being recognized (for) their efforts," Patterson said. "I’m kind of spoiled. The staff establishes high expectations, but they do it in a warm and loving environment, so it’s nice to see those efforts paying off."

The school will be recognized at the National Title I Conference in Long Beach, California, on Feb. 22, 2017. Patterson said the school is working to celebrate with the students in the coming weeks as well.

This isn't the first time that a York County school has been recognized by this association. Clearview Elementary School, in the Hanover Public School District, was recognized in 2015.

Ross Elementary in Lancaster County was the other Pennsylvania school selected for the National Title I Award this year, and it was selected for high progress in closing the achievement gap between student groups.

"We are thrilled for Dallastown Elementary and this honor," Dallastown Superintendent Ronald Dyer said. "It’s a tribute to everybody; the school, of course, but like so many things, it takes a village, so a lot of people contribute to a school’s success."

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