Portland Jewish Academy ranked in top 10 percent
By Deborah Moon Seldner
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Portland Jewish Academy was the only Oregon school recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education in 2005 as a Blue Ribbon School, which honors public and private K-12 schools that are either academically superior or demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement.
Private schools, such as PJA, must score in the top 10 percent of the nation on standardized tests over five years, as well as meet other criteria regarding teacher turn-over and student attendance. Private schools must be nominated for the award by the Council for American Private Education, which nominated 50 schools this year.
"This is national validation of what we all know—PJA is a jewel in our community," said Head of School Julie Smith. "We are thrilled that the faculty and students have been honored at the national level."
In a Sept. 23 press release, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced that 295 schools in the nation have been named No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools for 2005.
"These Blue Ribbon Schools are an example of what teachers and students can achieve," said Spellings in the release.
The award is a validation of all the school's hard work, according to PJA Board President Dr. Jay Rosenbloom.
"As a community school, the entire Jewish community should be proud of our achievement," said Rosenbloom. "This award proves we have reached a level of academic excellence all schools strive for but few achieve."
PJA Principal Patricia Schwartz said the award reflects the solid program PJA provides as a community day school.
"It shows we are excellent," said Schwartz. "It is a community award that acknowledges our great staff, supportive parents and wonderful students."
In its search for excellent programs, CAPE solicits applications from private schools across the nation. This year CAPE received hundreds of applications from which it nominated 50 schools including PJA, said Smith.
In addition to submitting five years of test results from the national Educational Records Bureau Comprehensive Testing Program and the Oregon State Assessments, PJA also submitted teacher turnover and attendance records designed to serve as a benchmark of stability, said Smith.
According to PJA's application, half of last year's eighth-graders scored at or above the 97th percentile for reading or mathematics. Historical data shows that between 86 and 100 percent of PJA students meet or exceed the Oregon state benchmarks in reading/literature and mathematics.
A community celebration of the award will be held at PJA 3-5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9. The celebration will feature a dessert buffet, music and activities for children. The school is located at 6651 S.W. Capitol Highway, Portland. For more information, call the school at 503-244-0126.