COOS COUNTY — Coquille and Bandon high schools have been nationally recognized by US News and World Report for their students' outstanding performance on state tests.

According to Coquille Superintendent Tim Sweeney, getting to this point is the culmination of a lot of hard work from teachers and administration.

“I also don’t want to underestimate getting counseling back in the district,” he said, referring to previous budget cuts that led to removing counselors from the district, which were reinstated last year. “Coos County has provided a mental health professional so we can give students not just more academic support in the classroom but more emotional support outside of the classroom. Our focus is on doing a better job meeting our student’s needs in a variety of areas.”

As for the national recognition, the Coquille School District earned a bronze award from US News and World Report, which is the same award Bandon earned. Both districts brought in higher test scores than the state average. According to US News, the Coquille School District saw a reading proficiency of 81 percent and a math proficiency of 28 percent.

In Bandon, students scored a reading proficiency of 78 percent and math proficiency of 39 percent.

“It’s one of those things where I’ve known for a few years now that Coquille High School has become a very good school and now that someone else is seeing what I’m seeing . . . it makes me proud,” Sweeney said about the bronze award. “It feels like our hard work is finally being recognized.”

Sweeney expects to see those scores continue to improve. He approached high school principal Jeff Philly at the end of the previous school year with the hypothetical question, “If I gave you $100,000 to improve your school, what would you do?”

According to Sweeney, Philly’s answer was to use the summer to catch students up on credit hours.

“He wanted to get them credit healthy so they feel good and encouraged walking into the new school year,” Sweeney said. “I was skeptical, didn’t think kids would come in over the summer, and I was wrong.”

The district has always provided summer coursework through its Winter Lakes alternative school, but this was the first time it offered a one month summer intensive English program. Once announced, 20 students signed up and went on to complete the program.

“This was the first summer we did this and it seemed to be highly successful,” Sweeney said. “We’re continuing to work on meeting student’s where they are and helping them be successful. That is the focus this year.”

And, as he says at the end of every interview with The World, added, “It’s a good time to be in Coquille. We’re having a lot of fun.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.