The National Title I Association has recognized Lincolnville Central School as a 2010 National Distinguished School, lauding teachers for their collaborative work in improving academic achievement.

“The teachers have been using Professional Learning Communities to closely monitor student data to ensure learning,” said Principal Paul Russo. “They have also put in place a Response to Intervention program to support students having difficulties. These efforts make it extremely difficult for students to fail.”

The National Title I Association is a nonprofit that supports schools and works with the U.S. Department of Education to advocate and enable disadvantaged children and youth to meet or exceed high academic state standards and implement programs under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Since 1996, the National Title I Distinguished School Program has honored schools across the country for their innovation in helping students achieve high educational standards. Members of the National Title I Association select two schools annually from each state. These schools represent examples of superior programs in one of two categories: exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years, or closing the achievement gap between student groups.

Lincolnville was selected for closing the achievement gap with high growth in the school’s subgroups, most noticeably with economically disadvantaged children. Cornish Elementary School was honored for exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years.

Lincolnville Central School educates approximately 190 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. It uses the team approach to teaching — the Professional Learning Communities — with three teams for the entire school: K-2, 3 to 5, and 6 to 8. The school’s strength, said Russo, lies in the teachers’ commitment to collaboratively focus on what the students need to know.

“How do we know they learned it, what do we do when they haven’t, and what do we do when they already know the information,” said Russo. “The teachers work together, examining student data and what has actually been learned.”

Team teachers meet each week for 90 minutes, discussing progress of each student, and determining how to allocate time and resources. For instance, said Russo, if a child struggles learning multiplication tables, the teachers will assign someone to sit with that student to help with the learning, and stick with him until he does know the tables.

This response to intervention goes hand in hand with the professional learning community model, said Russo.

Because of Lincolnville’s concerted effort with both programs, student achievement has increased, as evidenced by significantly higher test scores, said Russo.

Selected schools must have demonstrated high academic achievement for two or more consecutive years and met or exceeded state standards for making adequate yearly progress for two or more consecutive years. Both schools are being honored at the National Title I Association’s Conference in Tampa, Fla., this week.

Lincolnville Central School’s fourth-grade teacher Coral Coombs and sixth-grade/Title 1 teacher Torrie Sprague are representing Lincolnville at the weeklong conference.