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METAIRIE, La. - On Thursday, state education officials will recognize 27 Jefferson Parish schools for their efforts to improve student achievement.

The chosen schools, which make up 1/3 of the schools in the parish, will receive checks for $8,500 in honor of the Top Gains Award.

In 2012, 'we implemented many reforms, transformed public education in Jefferson Parish. This is the evidence that what we're doing, we're on the right track. Next, year, hopefully, we move forward at a much greater pace,' said Dr. James Meza, the superintendent of the Jefferson Parish Public School System.

The schools met or exceeded a series of predetermined academic standards. For example, in order to receive the award, the school had to achieve at least 10 points on the state LEAP test.

'Let's keep moving in this direction. Let's give principals autonomy. Let's give teachers the support and the materials they need to be successful. We want each school to be a center of excellence. These schools will drive our district to be one of the top in the state of Louisiana,' Meza said.

Louisiana Education Superintendent John White will present the check to Phoebe A. Hearst Elementary at 2 p.m. Other schools include Fisher Middle and High School, Gretna No. 2 Academy for Advanced Studies, Harahan Elementary, Haynes Academy School for Advanced Studies, Congetta T. Janet Elementary, Thomas Jefferson High School for Advanced Studies, Marrero Academy for Advanced Studies, McDonogh 26 Elementary, Metairie Academy for Advanced Studies, Patrick Taylor Science and Technology Academy, Riverdale HighSchool, Marie Riviere Elementary, Ruppel Academy for Advanced Studies, W. G. Schneckenburger Elementary, Washington Montessori, Westbank Community School, Woodmere Elementary and more.

The bonus is set to fund educational purposes.

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