My school is a Title 1 school. It's an odd combination really, as we have some very poor students along with some not-so-poor students. We have a lot of EL's, along with students who are not EL's. We have a good mix of students, but they don't all fit into a neat little label that the state/feds like to give kids. Before we got "hired" to go there, my friend and I listened to the principal talk about how great the school was, how high the students were and how wonderful it was. Listening to him talk, you'd had thought we were going to be teaching in Beverly Hills (I am no where near Beverly Hills, BTW).
Our first year there was an eye opener. The school was just like the school I came from, but just a bit higher academically. We had the same EL population, the same number for free lunch, the same "trashy" students and the same parents who cared and those who didn't. The only difference was my school was now a bit further down the road and on the other side of the lake.
Our principal at the time (part of the Good Ole Boys Club) was very much into raising test scores, like all principals. We were given lecture after lecture about test scores. We even had (and still do) intervention for all grade levels throughout the day to target the kids who need more help (I won't get started on this as it's a thorn in our sides). And, the scores go up. Is it from lectures? Intervention? No, it's because we bust our butts in the classroom and do what we know how to do.
In 09-10 school year, our school got a couple awards for raising test scores with our Title 1 students. It was a big deal for the district and all since the other schools in the district haven't earned many, if any awards. Our principal was all proud of the job he had done and we now have some ugly t-shirts to show that we earned these awards.
Our principal was moved last year. It ended up being the best thing in the world, since I didn't particularly care for him. We got a new principal from another school that closed. But, our former principal was a little pissed because the school could apply to be a Blue Ribbon School. He was moved to another school that has high test scores already, so there is little chance of him winning all these awards (since they are mostly for Title 1 schools or schools with big gaps in achievement). It was up to our new principal to apply for it and then cross her fingers that we did well on the test.
Late Friday night, like 9pm, we got word (or those of us who check our e-mail from work) that our school will likely be a National Blue Ribbon School. I should probably be more excited, but now the Superintendant is going to make a big deal about how he helped the school. Yeah, whatever. The jerk never came to the school once last year. It's the teachers who worked their butts off, thank you! I guess we won't hear officially til September or something, but it's nice to know that our hard work has paid off.
Now, it's going to be a bit more stressful, just for the fact that we have to keep scores up or else we look like we gave up. I know the kids we had last year who are going into 2nd were a higher group than the ones we had before, but that just means that group will be in 3rd grade and driving those teachers crazy (it was that kind of group). As a teacher, I hate having to worry about test scores. I just want to do my job, teach my kids and hope we have a little fun in the process.