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National ESEA Distinguished Schools

Since 2006, Colorado, in conjunction with the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA)—formerly the National Title I Association—has been selecting examples of superior, federally funded school programs for national recognition through the National ESEA Distinguished Schools program (recently renamed from its predecessor, the National Title I Distinguished Schools program). Schools are selected in one of two categories:

  •  Category 1: Exceptional student performance and academic growth for two or more consecutive years
  •  Category 2: Closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years
  •  Category 3: Excellence in serving special populations of students (e.g., homeless, migrant, English learners, etc.)

Schools are selected based on a combination of academic achievement of the students in the school and the creative and innovative programs that contribute to their success. These Colorado schools join hundreds of other distinguished schools nationwide making a difference for our Title I children.

The schools demonstrate a wide array of strengths, including team approaches to teaching and learning, focused professional development opportunities for staff, individualized programs for student success, and strong partnerships between the school, parents, and the community. The distinguished schools’ stories are especially powerful through the documented student achievement gains that have resulted from their innovations and hard work.

In order to be eligible, schools must meet the following criteria:

  • Poverty rate of at least 35 percent;
  • Demonstrate high academic achievement for two or more consecutive years;
  • Meet or exceed state criteria for at least two consecutive years.

2021 Recipients

Exceptional Student Performance Award

McClave Elementary School
McClave School District RE2

Principal: Maggie Pacino

Superintendent: Brianne Howe

The 2021 ESEA Distinguished Schools award for Exceptional Student Performance was awarded to McClave Elementary School: 

  • McClave Elementary is one of the top performing schools in Colorado, and has earned the highest rating in our state accountability system for the last 10 years.


  • McClave Elementary met or exceeded expectations on the state tests in English language arts and math in both 2018 and 2019. In fact, McClave Elementary was above the 80th percentile for achievement on both English language arts and math – meaning the school as a whole performed better than 80 percent of all other elementary schools in Colorado. McClave Elementary has also continued to perform above the state average in both English language arts and math in 2021.


Past Recipients of the Title I Distinguished Schools Award

Contact Information:

Patty Gleason
Competitive Grants and Awards

(303) 866-6143