Almost since day one, Mountain View Elementary School has been heralded as a shining success, as measured by academic achievement and growth.
The school opened in December 2003, and since 2004 consistently has received the John Irwin Schools of Excellence Award. Created by state lawmakers in 2000 to recognize the highest-performing public schools, the award's winners rank in the top 8 percentin Colorado.
Christopher Hain, in his third year as principal at Mountain View, said Academy School District 20 created the school with a technology focus, which has helped boost student performance.
"We put more money toward technology, whereas another school might put more toward academic support," he said.
Classes have iPads, interactive whiteboards, document cameras, projectors and Apple televisions, he said. Each fifth-grader received an iPad for doing schoolwork and homework.
The excitement among Angella Bates' 30 fifth-graders was palpable on the day they received their iPads, as students learned how their new gadgets worked.
"We're hoping the iPads will improve test scores even more, with the buy-in from the kids," Bates said. "They also allow us to use the intervention process to target specific skills that individual students need more practice on."
A writing coach, hired last year to begin co-teaching classes, has increased student comprehension, said Hain.
And it's allowing teachers to give more individualized attention, Bates said.
"As with any school, time is a challenge. With large class sizes, teachers are hard-pressed to spend quality one-on-one time with students. They end up spending their own free time, during lunch and before and after school. One way we address it is through collaboration," she said.
With one of the lowest poverty rates in D-20 - about 6 percent of the 580 students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches - and a minority count of 27 percent, Mountain View has different issues than schools with high numbers of disadvantaged students.
"One of the challenges of being a high-performing school is ensuring maximum growth for all students and ensuring we're meeting the individual needs of each of our children, no matter where they come to us from," Hain said.
Teachers are the most important factor for success at any school, Hain believes, and must set high expectations for all students to reach their highest achievement level.
"Setting the bar high each day for each student and giving them the tools to achieve that are necessary," he said.
Mountain View Elementary
Academy School District 20
Free/reduced-price lunch: 6 percent
Minorities: 27 percent
English language learners: N/A*
Ranks in the top 8 percent of schools in the state for academic achievement and growth
*Less than 16 students fall into this categrory, which is too few for the Colorado Department of Education to do a statistical analysis.