Taos Charter School recently was recognized as a National Title I Distinguished School by the National Title I Association.
The award comes from the academic success of Taos Charter students. The school received an A grade from the New Mexico Public Education Department for 2017 and showed increasing growth in both reading and math across the board. The school has received A grades for three years straight, rising above a B grade in 2014.
"We have highly qualified, motivated and experienced teachers," said School Director Jeremy Jones. "Every teacher walks in the door motivated and ready to go, and that translates to our students."
Only 100 schools across the United States are recognized each year by the association and its member state-education departments.
Jones said in the coming year, Taos Charter will continue to focus on its math scores. He said the school is already taking steps to improve its math scores and offers an extra math class for students to practice their skills. Jones reported that the class is usually full.
While operating as a charter school, Jones said the school is still under the umbrella of Taos Municipal Schools and says the recognition also belongs to the district as well as the school.
"We have a lot of talented people here in Taos," Jones said. "We are a part of Taos Municipal Schools and one of several schools that has an A grade."
The school has 213 students from grades K-8. The staff focuses on preparing students for success in high school and also offers college-prep courses. The school also has weekly art and music classes, daily physical education and bilingual classes and gives the teachers autonomy in guiding instruction, according to Jones. To enroll in the school, parents submit an application. The school holds a spring lottery for applicants. If classes are full, students are put on a waiting list until a space opens up. Most classes are around 23 students to a teacher. The largest class has 26 students to one teacher.
The National Title I Association is a membership-based organization and highlights schools that use their title I federal funding to improve student academic performance. Title I funding is federally granted to schools that either have high numbers or high percentages of low-income families enrolled. Prior to 2017, only four New Mexico schools were recognized as distinguished schools by the Title I Association.
Schools are recognized as distinguished in one of three categories, according to the association's website: "Exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years; closing the achievement gap between student groups; or excellence in serving homeless, migrant, English learners, and other special populations."