Story and photos by Scott Prater
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Abrams Elementary School at Fort Carson earned a distinguished honor March 8.
During an afternoon assembly, Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Commissioner Dr. Katy Anthes announced that Abrams is one of 68 schools nationwide to earn the National Elementary and Secondary Education Act Distinguished School Award for the extraordinary success of its students.
Anthes joined Fountain-Fort Carson School District officials and U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson Commander Col. Brian K. Wortinger in presenting the award to Abrams Principal Lois Skaggs and the school’s students, teachers and administrators.
“Abrams students had an amazing amount of success in 2018 and that’s attributed to the school’s teachers, but it also shows the support gained from parents, community members and Army leadership,” Anthes said. “To all of the students here, this award shows you are growing and learning and putting in the work in the classroom. Out of 750 schools in (Colorado), Abrams earned this award because the school has raised its student achievement for all its students.”
According to Anthes, “Abrams has attained the highest rating of student performance that a school can achieve for the past three years. This includes achievement for all students and all sub groups of students. It’s incredible.”
Anthes then presented the student body with a check from the CDE for $10,000.
Skaggs, in her sixth year as principal at Abrams, said earning the award, considering it is presented to such a small group of schools nationwide, was quite a surprise.
“We knew we had great performance numbers, but this comes as a shock,” she said. “We’re happy and proud. Our students have shown continued growth across math, reading and writing areas and have been outpacing the growth of students at other schools.”
The National ESEA Distinguished Schools program recognizes award winning schools in three categories. Abrams earned its award for performance in category two: closing the achievement gap between student groups.
“We’re closing the performance achievement gaps between students, which are based on socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity and other (identifiers),” Skaggs said. “Often there are big disparities among sub groups. But our kids are achieving across all sub groups.
So, we’re seeing smaller gaps or no gaps at all between groups.”
The CDE collects all school data from throughout the year and decides on awarding its winners following careful analysis.
“Five years ago, this school was struggling,” Skaggs said. “We were consistently scoring the lowest in the district. I think our change in systems was pivotal in improving, as well as our focus on student engagement and standards-based teaching. Our classrooms are busy and our classrooms are loud. Our teachers work hard and are constantly looking for new and creative solutions and new and different ways to keep kids engaged.”