An important part of the U.S. Department of Education, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes outstanding public and non-public schools. In identifying several hundred outstanding schools annually, the program celebrates school excellence, turn around stories, and closing subgroup achievement gaps. The Award is both a high aspiration and a potent resource of practitioner knowledge.
Award Categories and Nomination Process
“Exemplary High Performing” schools have their state’s highest high school graduation rates and the highest achieving students (the top 15%) in English and mathematics, measured by state assessments.
“Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing” schools have made the greatest advances (top 15%) in closing subgroup achievement gaps in English and mathematics over the past three to five years, measured by state assessments.
Non-public schools are recognized as “Exemplary High Performing” if their student achievement in English and mathematics is among the highest in the country (top 15%), measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
Public schools are nominated by the Chief State School Officer in each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). At least one-third of public schools nominated in each state must have high percentages of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. “High percentage” typically means at least 40 percent unless a state has a lower average percentage of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. All public schools must also meet their state’s annual measurable performance targets. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates non-public schools, including parochial and independent schools. A total of 421 schools nationwide may be nominated, with state allocations determined by the number of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction, ranging from a minimum of three schools to a maximum of 35. CAPE may nominate up to 50 non-public schools.