Louisiana Believes website recently announced that several schools were in the running for The National Blue Ribbon Award. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program is a federal program whose mission is to “promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access” as stated on their website. The award recognizes schools based on their overall academic excellence and progress with closing achievement gaps. Every year the U.S. Department of Education celebrates great American schools that have been successful in showing that all students can achieve at high levels. More than 8,500 schools across the country have been presented with this highly coveted and prestigious award. The award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students succeed.
Schools may be nominated for the award only once within a five-year period and are nominated by their Chief State School Officer. The U.S. Department of Education determines the number of nominations per state based on the number of students and schools in each state. One-third of the public schools nominated by each state must include student populations with at least 40% of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
This year, six Louisiana schools have been nominated to be recipients of the award which will be announced in September of 2019. Four of the nominated schools are recognized as “Exemplary High Performing Schools” and two of the nominated schools are recognized as “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools.” They are among the state’s highest-performing schools as measured by state assessments.
The schools include:
Haynes Academy School for Advanced Studies, Jefferson Parish
Early College Academy, Lafayette Parish
Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, Jefferson Parish
Thomas Jefferson High School for Advanced Studies, Jefferson Parish
Bayou Black Elementary School, Terrebonne Parish
St. Charles Elementary School, Lafourche Parish
School administrators were over the moon upon hearing of the recent nominations. Karla H. Russo, Principal of Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies in Jefferson Parish: “We are honored to be nominated as a potential National Blue Ribbon School. Our faculty, staff, students, parents, and community work together to create an environment that fosters student achievement and success, and I am proud to see their dedication and commitment to learning recognized.” Alexander Melton, Principal of Early College Academy in Lafayette Parish: “Early College Academy is honored and excited to be the recipient of a Blue Ribbon School nomination. To be mentioned in the same category as the other fine Louisiana schools who have been nominated is humbling for us. All of our stakeholders, especially our students, faculty, and staff, work hard to achieve the best results possible. We are both proud and excited to be recognized for that hard work.”
John White himself commented on the nominations and overall success of many Louisiana schools in a released statement: “These six schools stand out for their ability to either steadily improve student achievement over subsequent years or consistently remain one of the top performing schools in the state. This is a commendable achievement worthy of this distinguished honor.”
The winning school will serve as a model of effective school practices for state and district educators as well as throughout the nation. Staff at winning schools are often sought out as mentors to discuss key elements of their success, from individualized student supports, research-based instruction, collaboration, and targeted curricula. Representatives from schools will be invited to Washington DC to be honored at an annual awards ceremony. The school itself will receive an engraved plaque and flag with the official seal signifying its winning status and the year of the award.
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