McDonald Elementary achieves Five-Star school rating

MOSCOW, ID - According to the Idaho State Department of Education, one of the top elementary schools in the state is on the Palouse.

Palouse Reporter Rachel Dubrovin tells us about the five-star school, and what it took to accomplish that rating.

McDonald Elementary has almost 400 students, making it the largest elementary school in the Moscow district. Some parents would argue that it's also one of the best.

"We, a little bit, chose our house according to which school we were going to go to," said Moscow parent Tiffany Skinner. "This is a really good school, and it always has been."

Recently, the Idaho State Department of Education gave the school five-stars, a rating that only 12% of Idaho schools qualify for.

"We've worked really, really hard and it was really exciting to see that statistic," said McDonald Elementary School Principal Cindy Bechinski.

McDonald also ranked eighth out of 630 schools in the state for student improvement.

"We believe in continuous improvement," said Bechinski. "No matter where we are, we're never there, we never arrive."

Bechinski said that since Idaho schools don't receive as much funding as schools in other states, achieving this ranking meant getting creative.

"We have identified ways of doing things differently, put us a little bit out of our comfort zone," said Bechinski.

The teachers say that volunteers are a big part of the school's success.

"We have a lot of parent involvement, we have a lot of university help," said McDonald Kindergarten teacher Heidi Palmer.

"I have about four parents that come into my room and really help with just volunteering and helping with each different, individual student," said McDonald 5th grade teacher Lance Hamma. "And without them, man, my job would be a lot harder."

But parents said it's the teachers that make a difference.

"Teachers here are very kind and loving, and my kids often make the statement that they feel like their teachers love them, and they love their teachers," said Skinner. "And to me as a parent, that's probably the best thing I can hear."

Either way, this ranking gives a special meaning to being a McDonald duck.

This rating put McDonald Elementary in the 99th percentile for student growth and improvement.