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Educational Service District 105

33 S. Second Avenue, Yakima, WA  98902



DATE:            October 11, 2018


TO:                  Yakima County and Kittitas County media


RE:                 Eight south central Washington schools among annual recipients of the statewide “School of Distinction Award” for 2018


CONTACT:    David Goehner, ESD 105 Public Information Officer

     (509) 454-3131, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Eight of south central Washington’s schools are among 91 being honored statewide with the 2018 School of Distinction award – recognizing the top 5 percent of Washington’s schools that have had the most outstanding levels of student improvement over the past five years in reading and math as well as graduation rates.


Sunnyside High School emerged as a fourth-time winner of the 12th annual award, having now received it for all four years since 2015.  The school is one of 11 throughout the state that was named a School of Distinction for a fourth time this year, and is the only high school in South Central Washington to receive one of the awards for 2018.


Four of this year’s local honorees have become three-time recipients of School of Distinction award:

  • East Valley’s East Valley Central Middle School and East Valley Elementary School have both extended their streaks of winning the award to three years, going back to 2016.
  • Zillah Middle School is another third-time winner, having previously received the award in 2015 and 2016.
  • The other three-time recipient from our region for 2018 is Cle Elum-Roslyn’s Walter Strom Middle School, which won the award during the second year of the School of Distinction program in 2008, and did so again last year.

These four area schools are among 28 in the state that are getting the School of Distinction title this year for a third time.


Two other schools from our area are repeat winners of the School of Distinction award.  Zillah Intermediate School and Highland’s Tieton Intermediate School are both back-to-back recipients of the award for 2017 and 2018.  Statewide, 25 schools became second-time School of Distinction recipients this year.   


Granger Middle School is the sole first-time School of Distinction recipient among South Central Washington’s schools for 2018.  Another 20 schools statewide also received the award for the first time this year.


The School of Distinction Award goes to the top 5 percent of Washington schools that have attained the most outstanding levels of sustained improvement in English language arts, math, and graduation rates among their students over the past five years.  Levels of student achievement are calculated from state testing scores, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment.



To be eligible for the School of Distinction Award, a school must perform at or above the state median in English language arts and math throughout grades 3-5 for elementary schools, and throughout grades 6-8 for middle schools.  Measurements for high schools were determined based on 4-year and 5-year adjusted cohort graduation rates. 


Each area school will be formally honored by Educational Service District 105 with a plaque and banner during special assemblies that will be scheduled beginning in late November. 


The 12th annual School of Distinction awards have been presented since 2007 to recognize the highest improving schools in the state of Washington.  The program was originated by Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and is now presented by a group of six organizations: the Center for Educational Effectiveness, the Association of Educational Service Districts, the Association of Washington School Principals, the Washington Association of School Administrators, the Washington State School Directors’ Association, and the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


For more information on the Center for Educational Effectiveness’ School of Distinction program, go to:  http://www.effectiveness.org/2018-school-of-distinction/.


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  • For clarification, the “School of Distinction Award” is an award that recognizes a school’s level of student academic improvement over the past five years in reading and math.  The methodology for this award is not designed to necessarily reflect schools that may be among the state’s highest overall in terms of general academic achievement.
  • ESD 105 will notify you of the dates of the individual school award celebrations involving the formal presentation of their School of Distinction banners as they become scheduled during late November and December.



About ESD 105:

ESD 105 supports 25 public school districts and 23 state-approved private and tribal schools in South Central Washington.  The agency serves the expressed needs of those schools in coordinating and conducting cooperative programs to benefit the approximately 66,000 K-12 students who are served in Kittitas and Yakima counties and portions of Grant and Klickitat counties.  As one of nine ESDs in the state, ESD 105 carries out liaison activities between local school districts, the Washington State Office of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education.