John Muir Elementary Receives Two Academic Honors By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday December 10, 2004

Berkeley’s John Muir School—which earlier this summer had to fight off concerns that its student achievement might have been dropping—got vindication this week with the announcement that the College Avenue elementary was one of 35 California schools nominated for a national academic award. 

The nomination was made by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell for the U.S. Department of Education’s 2004-05 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Honors Program. 

John Muir principal Nancy D. Waters called the nomination “way too cool” and said that “we’re flying pretty high around here, right now.” 

The school was hit with another honor this week when the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) announced that Muir fourth-fifth grade teacher Marlo Warburton was one of some 450 California teachers achieving the prestigious NBPTS certification this year. Warburton has taught at John Muir for nine years. 

According to a news release sent out by the California Department of Education, Blue Ribbon Schools are “considered to be national models of excellence.” The 35 schools nominated by Superintendent O’Connell all have met Academic Performance Index (API) growth targets as well as federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements. John Muir was one of only four schools nominated from Alameda County, and one of only nine schools nominated from the Bay Area. 

Nominated schools that meet both the U.S. Department of Education criteria and the 2005 AYP standards will be named next fall as Blue Ribbon Schools and honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

Waters said that “everybody’s really excited over here” concerning the nomination. “The kids are very proud of themselves for the work they’ve been doing, and the teachers are feeling validated that their time and effort is paying off. This has been a real collaborative effort, between certified teachers, classified staff, students, and their families.” 

Meanwhile, BUSD Superintendent Michele Lawrence said she was giving her “heartfelt congratulations” to Warburton for the NBPTS certification. “She is a wonderful teacher, and she deserves this recognition. She...is representative of so many excellent teachers that we have in the BUSD, and I hope that this encourages more of them to tackle this difficult challenge.” 

BUSD Public Information Officer Mark A. Coplan called the NBPTS certification “the highest credential in the teaching profession.” He said that certification “is achieved through a rigorous, performance-based assessment that takes between one and three years to complete and measure what accomplished teachers and school counselors should know and be able to do.” 

Only 3,000 California teachers have received the NBPTS certification, four of them—with Warburton—from the Berkeley Unified School District. 

Earlier this fall, the academic news from John Muir Elementary was more confusing and less pleasing, with the announcement that English Language Arts scores taken by the school’s fourth graders last May on the California Standards Test (CST) had dropped 30 percent from the year before. But school and district officials say the results were misleading and appeared to be contradicted by the fact that the school’s scores on the California Academic Performance Index (API) had gone up in the same period. School and district officials later said that the drop in John Muir’s school’s CST may have been caused by a problem with the test scoring procedure.›