Awards instill sense of pride, but outcomes for kids matter most

PSD Superintendent Dr. Sandra SmyserLast month, I was fortunate enough to attend an event at which Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and the State Board of Education recognized the 2019 accomplishments of 257 schools and 65 school districts, including Poudre School District. In total this year, 19 PSD schools were honored with state awards!

It is always an honor to recognize our students and staff – so many of whom earn state and national awards every single school year. Celebrating their achievements is one of the true highlights of my career. What makes these state awards particularly special is that they represent the most important aspect of our work in PSD: making a deep and tangible difference in the education of our students. 

PSD’s awards include: 
Centers of Excellence award: Nineteen schools in nine school districts were honored with this award, which demonstrates the highest sustained rates of student longitudinal growth as measured by the Colorado Growth Model among those that have at least 75 percent at-risk students. We are proud to say that Putnam Elementary School received the distinction for the third year in a row. State-level data show the talented teams at Putnam are closing achievement gaps.

Governor’s Distinguished Improvement awards are given to schools that demonstrate excellent student growth. On the School Performance Framework used by the state to evaluate schools, these schools “exceed” expectations on the indicator related to longitudinal academic growth over three years. In 2019, 99 Colorado schools earned this award, including: Bennett, Livermore, McGraw, Rice, Shepardson, Werner, and Zach elementary schools, and Mountain Sage Community School. 

High School Academic Growth awards recognize high schools that demonstrate the highest levels of student academic growth in reading, writing and math. In 2019, seven schools statewide demonstrated the highest rate of student longitudinal growth. From PSD, Ridgeview Classical Charter Schools received the distinction. 

John Irwin awards are given to schools that demonstrate excellent academic achievement. On the School Performance Framework, these schools “exceed” expectations on the indicator for academic achievement over three years. In 2019, 174 schools earned this award, including: Werner, Dunn, Traut, McGraw, Bennett, Bethke, Zach, and Kruse elementary schools; Fort Collins Montessori School and Liberty Common Charter School; Kinard and Cache La Poudre middle schools; and Fossil Ridge High School. 

I am not overstating things when I say I would have been beyond proud if only one PSD school had received an award. To have 19 schools recognized brings pride beyond measure. These awards are a testament to the intentional and passionate efforts of our staff, who are working as strong and focused teams to give our students the best educations possible. 



Sandra Smyser, Ph.D.