Dec 17, 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. - Today, State Superintendent of Education John White visited Benton Middle School in Bossier Parish to present Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen with a check for $350,000 as part of the Department's Believe and Include grant initiative. The Department is funding the $4 million dollar grant program through the repurposing of existing federal funding for projects through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and returning the money to schools to spur innovation that will directly impact student achievement for students with special needs.

"If we are going to believe all children can learn, then we must also believe that students with special needs can achieve at higher levels," State Superintendent of Education John White said. "This initiative is about finding innovative ways to not only include our students with disabilities but to create better learning environments for them to achieve higher outcomes."

Benton Middle School is partnering with Cope Middle School, Elm Grove Middle School, Greenacres Middle School, Haughton Middle School, LA New Tech Middle School, and Rusheon Middle School to increase the academic performance of IDEA students by 25 percent in English Language Arts and math. The grant will be used to fund Project AIRS (Assess, Instruct, and Remediate Successfully) - a well-defined plan supporting learning opportunities for middle school students to experience success in the classroom and beyond the school setting.

"We are very proud and honored to have our Project AIRS - Assess, Instruct and Remediate Successfully - selected as one of the finalists to receive funding through the Believe and Include grant initiative," said D.C. Machen, Jr., Superintendent of Bossier Schools. "All of our middle schools will reap the benefits of these resources to enhance instructional activities designed to improve student achievement in both literacy and math skills."

In addition, Supt. White took the opportunity to celebrate student achievement with the administrators, faculty and students of Benton Middle School. For the 2011-2012 school year, Benton Middle School earned the Top Gains School designation - one of 12 schools in Rapides Parish labeled Top Gains. Supt. White presented the school with a check in the amount of $8,453 as a reward for increasing student achievement.

"We are honored to be recognized as a Top Gains School by the state of Louisiana," said Dwayne W. Slack, Principal at Benton Middle School.  "It is a reflection of a partnership between Benton Middle School and the community.  I am so proud of our students, teachers and parents that have worked so hard to achieve this recognition."

About Believe and Include
Sixteen districts or charter organizations, representing 85 schools, will benefit from grants as part of the Department's Believe and Include initiative to develop innovative programs that help students with disabilities achieve proficiency of the more rigorous Common Core State Standards.  Believe and Include represents an effort to drive achievement by empowering district leaders, school leaders, and special education teachers to pursue innovation in special education in our state.  For a complete listing of Believe and Include recipients, please click here.

About Top Gains Schools
This year 440 schools in the state earned the Top Gains School designation. Top Gains Schools improved their School Performance Score by or beyond a pre-determined growth target, from 2 to 10 points, and will receive $8,453 each for educational purposes within the school. For a complete listing of 2011-2012 Top Gains Schools, please click here.

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