Blue Ribbon Schools
The No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools (BRS) program is a nationally recognized program sponsored by the US Department of Education (USDE). The program recognizes successful elementary and/or secondary schools in the United States that are academically superior, that make significant progress in closing the achievement gap or that demonstrate dramatic changes in student achievement in Reading and Mathematics for all students. Since 1982, the program has evolved into a national school improvement spotlight for schools and has led many states to related school improvement programs.
There are three purposes for the BRS program:
1. Identify and recognize outstanding public and private schools across the nation
2. Make research-based effectiveness criteria available to all schools so they can assess themselves and plan for school improvement
3. Encourage schools to share best practices based on a common understanding of criteria related to educational success.
Public and private K-12 schools in the nation are eligible to be nominated. The Florida Department of Education nominates public schools within the state of Florida. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools.
There are two assessment criteria that must be met to nominate a school:
1. At least 40% of the students in the school must come from a disadvantaged background (Free or Reduced Lunch [FRL]; Title I eligible, Limited English Proficient [LEP]; or Migrant). This group of students must show dramatic improvement in FCAT test scores in both Reading and Mathematics for all students in the school for the most recent three years (at a 60% proficiency level on FCAT or higher).
2. Regardless of demographics, the school must be in the top 10% of schools in Florida as measured by FCAT in both Reading and Mathematics for at least the most recent of the past three years.
A nominated school has to have been in existence for at least five years and have three years of assessment data. A school cannot be in school improvement status or be deemed ‘persistently dangerous’for the latest two years of its most recent three years reported. Nominated schools must make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the latest two years, including the year they are nominated. The school’s assessment data must show dramatically improving test scores in Reading and Mathematics for all students and show evidence of closing the achievement gap.
A winning school must demonstrate a strong commitment to educational excellence and equity for all students. Schools demonstrating sustainability of these values along with schools overcoming obstacles and providing evidence of significant improvements are nominated and encouraged to apply. The program offers a way to acknowledge the hard work of students, staff, family, and community stakeholders for closing achievement gaps.
The winning Blue Ribbon Schools are honored annually at a Washington, DC ceremony and their applications are posted to the USDE website at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/index.html . Each of the winners is presented with a Blue Ribbon Schools award plaque and flag to display at their schools.
On September 15 2009, the 2009 National Blue Ribbon Schools were announced by U. S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. 314 public and private schools will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., November 2-3, 2009.