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For the first time, a school in Bonneville Joint School District 93 has been nominated for the National Blue Ribbon award, the Department of Education’s prestigious program for high-performing schools.

Fairview Elementary School was one of two Idaho schools nominated by the State Department of Education for the national award, along with Beutler Elementary School in Dayton. Department of Education records show this is the first time a school in Bonneville Joint School District 93 has been nominated and the first local nomination for a school since Westside Elementary was nominated during the 1987-1988 school year.

“The curriculum has changed a lot but that is exciting because the kids are rising to our higher level of expectation. It’s amazing to see what they can do when challenged,” fourth-grade teacher CharDawn Willis said.

Fairview is nominated as an Exemplary High Performing School, meaning it was in the top 15 percent of schools across the state for its standardized test results and served a student population that was at least 40 percent from low-income families. Last year the school scored above average on all sections of the Idaho Standards Achievement Test and the Idaho Reading Indicator.

Principal Anna Pack credited some of the school’s success to having time on Wednesdays for teachers to work together. The school has used that time to have teachers coordinate their lesson plans between grade levels, figuring out how to make sure that students who are performing above and below grade level can be supported.

“There’s not time to teach all the standards, so we need to drill down, pick out the essential standards and map them out for the year and between years,” Pack said.

She also credited the school’s response intervention team, which met with students during a 30-minute window every day to help them get to grade level without taking them out of their main classes.

The Nezperce School in Nezperce and Birch Elementary School in Nampa were nominated as this year’s Distinguished Schools for Idaho, another Department of Education award limited to two top-performing schools in each state every year. There were 312 public schools nominated for the National Blue Ribbon last year, including Burton Elementary School in Rexburg.

Brennen is the main education reporter for the Post Register. Contact him with news tips at 208-542-6711.