OAKLAND -- Lincoln Elementary School today became the first public, non-charter school in Oakland to receive a National Blue Ribbon Award from the United States Department of Education.

It was one of just 21 public or private schools in California to be honored this year for academic excellence, and among 304 nationwide.

More than 75 percent of Lincoln's students come from low-income families, and about 90 percent enter kindergarten with limited knowledge of English, Principal John Melvin said. But 84 percent tested "proficient" or higher this year on the state's reading test, and 96 percent showed proficiency in math. Every one of its fourth-grade students met the state's targets in math, and 93 percent tested at the "advanced," or the highest, level.

The 600-student school is in Oakland's Chinatown, home of many Asian immigrant families. Melvin said the school has supportive parents, students who are eager to learn and "a critical mass of expert teachers" that collaborate. The school uses a bilingual education model for its Cantonese-speakers in grades K to 3, as well as Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) curriculum for all students to teach higher-level thinking.



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