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Richland Elementary wins OEPAward

Principal ‘ shocked’ at honor for testing excellence

West Memphis School District Richland Elementary continued its run of excellence recently by being named a High Achieving Elementary for Region ELA.

It is the third time Richland has been cited for the honor. The award originates from the Office for Education Policy (OEP) at the University of Arkansas.

Despite being honored before, Richland principal Gwen Looney said she and her staff were 'shocked' at the news.

'We were shocked because we're in a new testing era,' said Looney. 'We've been using Benchmark testing in past years, but now we're in the PARCC, which is all done online. That's what makes this award much sweeter.'

The honor is based on the results of the 2014-15 PARCC assessments and performance is measured by the OEP-created 'school GPA.'

'Our technology people, led by Jim Robb, did such a great job preparing us for the testing,' Looney added. 'I don't know where we would have been without them. There were a lot of quirky things that went along with the PARCC. It was very difficult.'

Richland, which was honored nationally in recent years by being named a Blue Ribbon School, has garnered its reputation as a strong academic school, which Looney said, in turn, creates high expectations from parents of in-coming students.

'(The parents) expect the students and the teachers to perform here,' said Looney. 'There's some pressure put on us, but of course, we want that type of expectation. When you surround yourself with great people, great things happen.'

By Billy Woods

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