Is Your Child's School a Blue Ribbon School?

Is Your Child's School a Blue Ribbon School?
Did your child's school make the list? We cover the latest Blue Ribbon Schools awards given by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The U.S. Department of Education recently released it 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools awards, which includes 219 public and 50 private schools across the country. The National Blue Ribbon Schools program has been a mainstay of the education system in the U.S. for the past three decades, providing parents, students and members of the community informed about the top-rated schools in the country. The awards are primarily intended to serve as an example and inspiration for the entire education system in the U.S.

Announcement of Awards Eagerly Anticipated

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently announced the recipients of the awards from one of the 2012 Blue Ribbon Schools, Arlington Traditional Elementary School, according to a report in the Washington Post. The program recognizes public and private schools at both the primary and secondary levels that have demonstrated outstanding student achievement or improvement over the past academic year.

“Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential,” Secretary Duncan was reported by the Examiner as stating at the award presentation. “Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future.”

In this video, Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy talks with Principal Holly Hawthorne of Arlington Traditional School about the school's selection as a 2012 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. ATS is one of only 269 schools nationwide and one of seven elementary schools in Virginia to receive this prestigious honor.

The Selection Process

To qualify as a Blue Ribbon School, schools must be nominated by the state’s commissioner of education. The U.S. Department of Education then selects the finalists of the awards from the nominations submitted, based on two distinct categories. The first category, “Exemplary High Performing,” includes schools that have outshined the rest of the schools in their state in terms of state assessments or national standardized examinations. The second category, “Exemplary Improving,” is reserved for schools that contain a student population that is at least 40 percent disadvantaged students and has shown significant progress in improving academic performance.

Over the past three decades, since the awards program began, the U.S. Department of Education has given Blue Ribbon Schools awards to nearly 7,000 schools across the United States, according to the Department of Education’s website. The website also states that the award-winning schools receive flags they can wave outside their schools to let everyone passing by know of their recognition. Since the Nation Blue Ribbon Schools awards have become associated with excellence in academic performance, this is a distinction worth advertising.

Five Schools in Alabama Included on Blue Ribbon List

WSFA 12 reports that five schools in the state of Alabama have been included as National Blue Ribbon Schools this year. Those schools are Spencer Elementary School in Mobile County, Liberty Middle School in Madison, Forest Hills School in Florence, Daphne High School and Piedmont High School. Daphne High School, located in Baldwin County, is now displaying their Blue Ribbon emblems on their school websites. Piedmont High School has also been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top high schools in the country, due to its use of technology in connecting classrooms.

This video reports on Spencer Elementary School's Blue Ribbon Award.

Washington D.C.-Area Schools Honored

In the Washington D.C. area, where the awards were announced by Secretary Duncan, eight schools made the grade. Five of those schools included Rachel Carson Elementary School, Whitehall Elementary School, Crofton Meadows Elementary School, McKinley Technology High School, and Arlington Traditional Elementary School, where the awards were presented. The other three schools in the area that received the Blue Ribbon distinction were private institutions, including St. Peter’s School, Holy Cross Academy, and Blessed Sacrament School.

Whitehall Elementary was one of the schools that earned the award in the “Exemplary Improving” category, after making considerable progress on standardized test scores in recent years. Verjeana Jacobs, chairman of the school board, told the Washington Post, “It means that what we have been working on is paying off. It says we are going in the right direction.”

For Arlington Traditional School, this is the second Blue Ribbon award in eight years. Arlington school superintendent Patrick K. Murphy was reported stating in the Washington Post, “I want to congratulate the entire ATS community on receiving this prestigious honor. This recognition rewards the time that teachers spend each day making sure that their students have the tools to help them succeed in the classroom. It recognizes the time students put into learning as well as the time parents spend supporting their child’s education.”

Colorado Announces Five Winners

Ed News Colorado reports that five schools in Colorado were also winners of the prestigious awards. Those schools include Garnet Mesa Elementary School in Delta, Avon Elementary School in Avon, Pear Park Elementary School in Grand Junction, Slavens K-8 School in Denver, and Summit Middle Charter School in Boulder. In addition to the Blue Ribbon award, Summit was also recently named a “Middle School of Distinction” by the state’s local 5280 Magazine. The school was recognized for its improvement in standardized test scores, and it was one of 18 middle schools in the state to receive the distinction.

This video illustrates how the U.S. Department of Education announces Blue Ribbon Schools.

All of the winners of this year’s National Blue Ribbon Schools awards will be publicly recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in November. The department is planning a recognition ceremony on November 12-13 in Washington D.C. The Blue Ribbon award is one that schools can wear with pride to let students, parents, and members of the community know that they are committed to excellence in academic standards and that the students that attend these schools will be equipped with the proper tools to succeed in their school endeavors.

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