Red Bank’s pre-K-8 school district was among 11 from across New Jersey honored this week by the state Department of Education as “most improved” in terms of student performance.

The designation as a Lighthouse District “validates the work we are doing as a school community,” Superintendent of Schools Jared Rumage said in a statement Thursday.

The winners were announced at the NJDOE’s statewide Equity for All conference held at The College of New Jersey on Wednesday.

The Lighthouse District initiative was launched two years ago as a result of “conversations with educators, families and students throughout the state who felt there should be a greater focus on growth, rather than proficiency alone,” the DOE said in a prepared statement.

“The aim of the Lighthouse initiative is not to identify the districts with the highest test scores, but rather districts that have shown the greatest improvement,” said Kathy Goldenberg, president of the State Board of Education. “By doing so, we give these local educators a platform in which they can share their initiatives, programs and successes with school leaders in other communities.”

The award winners “demonstrated measurable progress across diverse groups of learners, and used multiple measures to provide individualized support to students and school communities,” the DOE said. The agency evaluated four years of district and school-level data to identify districts with the greatest academic improvement, it said.

Rumage said he was “grateful to work in such a supportive community, with such talented and compassionate educators, and for the kindest and most talented students in America. We will continue to strive to be the Best In America so that we will always be the Best for Red Bank.”

Joining Red Bank as a designee from Monmouth County was Long Branch. By county, the other districts honored were:

Camden Waterford Township School District

Cape May Ocean City School District

Essex TEAM Academy Charter School

Gloucester West Deptford Township School District

Mercer Paul Robeson Charter School for the Humanities

Middlesex Perth Amboy School District

Passaic Little Falls Township School District

Somerset Somerville School District

Warren Washington Borough School District

 (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)