Having made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the state System of School Assessment (PSSA) for the past eight years, Stevens Elementary has been recognized as a 2012-13 Title 1 Distinguished School by the state Department of Education.
"It validates what we've been doing. And it draws attention to the fact that when you lay us against schools of similar nature, we're finishing near the top," said Principal Kirk Felix.
Title 1 is a federally funded program that gives funding to schools with large populations of economically disadvantaged students for academic needs. The state determines if a students is economically disadvantaged by whether they receive free or reduced lunch.
Stevens was one of 113 individual schools that received the title of Distinguished School.
Dr. Susan Bigger, director of federal programs, explained that the district received grants for "teacher-driven support" in reading.
About 85 percent of Stevens' students fall under the category of disadvantaged.
Once a Title 1 school achieves AYP for two consecutive years, the state then looks at programs schools use to boost academic performance, in order to select schools for the honor.
"For years we've used data to make decisions for where we would focus our instruction," Felix said.
He also explained that the school has used a program called "Catching Kids Up," which allows students in the fourth grade to be exposed to science material before a lesson. He said this helps students be familiar with the topics and vocabulary before the unit lesson is presented.
"We focused it in fourth grade science, which is where the PSSA measures science efforts at our level. The teachers that used it were very fond of it and excited," Felix said.
Bigger added that the recognition shows that students who are deemed as "disadvantaged" can achieve high goals.
"I think what stands out is that you can achieve ... in a school even where some disadvantages are occurring and yet that's not a reason to not achieve," she said.
Both said the faculty were a major reason for receiving this recognition.
"I was happy and excited that the staff here working with a high poverty population and having gone above and beyond had definitely earned this type of recognition," Felix said.
"I think they overcome road blocks and obstacles. I think its a faculty that puts their hearts and souls into their work everyday," Bigger said.
Although Felix said he was happy when he received news of the recognition, he knew that the school had performed well enough to garner attention.
"I knew recognition of this nature would soon be coming our way," he said.
Stevens' staff will be presenters at the Pennsylvania Statewide Title 1 Conference in January and still could be honored as the National Title 1 Distinguished School.