Six South-Western City School District schools have been recognized for exceeding expectations for student growth during the 2018-19 school year.

They are among 173 schools in Ohio to receive the State Board of Education's Momentum Award.

Holt Crossing Intermediate School received the award for a fourth consecutive year, and Buckeye Woods Elementary School and Galloway Ridge Intermediate School were honored for the second time.

Hayes, Park Street and Franklin Woods intermediate schools were first-time recipients of the awards, which were announced Dec. 9.

To earn a Momentum Award, schools must earn straight A's on all value-added measures on the state report card. The school must have at least two value-added subgroups of students, which include gifted, lowest 20% in achievement and students with disabilities.

It's notable that the number of South-Western schools earning the Momentum Award doubled, Superintendent Bill Wise said.

"We believe our focus on early literacy is a big reason why we're seeing the gains and increases in student growth," he said.

The district's addition four years ago of all-day, every-day kindergarten classes has also been beneficial, Wise said.

The increased amount of instruction all-day kindergarten students are receiving helps set them up for later success in reading and writing, he said.

Those results should improve even more as the district implements iReady, a computer software program that offers teachers assessment and diagnostic tools with increased rigor in writing and reading, he said.

The iReady software allows teachers to get faster and more detailed data about a student's performance and how best to meet that student's individual needs.

The Momentum Awards are another indication that South-Western's emphasis on improving instruction in the classroom and assisting its students who are most vulnerable academically is paying dividends, said Brad Faust, assistant superintendent for curriculum.

A total of 150 teachers in grades K-8 have participated the past two summers in the Teachers College professional development program offered by Columbia University and hosted by South-Western, he said.

The Teachers College program provides strategies that can be used in the classroom to encourage and engage students in improving their reading and writing skills, Faust said.

"The ideas our teachers learned through the program can be used by other teachers in our district," he said.