National Blue Ribbon: 292 public, 50 private schools

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recognized 342 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2017 based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Here’s her national announcement:

The Department will formally recognize the 292 public and 50 private schools at an awards ceremony at the Omni Shoreham in Washington on November 6 and 7.

“America’s students are more diverse than ever,” she said in her announcement. “No child is the same, and National Blue Ribbon Schools recognize that different students, in different places, have different needs. That’s why we recognize a diverse array of National Blue Ribbon Schools: the unique needs of students across the country aren’t met by a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

She then listed a few examples of ways the nation’s best and most exemplary schools go about doing this.

“Even National Blue Ribbon Schools must be challenged to do better,” she said. “No school should ever just settle. It should continue to improve and innovate. Schools do this when they use personalized learning programs, project-based learning, or offer a more hands-on, interactive learning opportunity. Secondary schools break the mold when they offer opportunities to earn college credit to high school students.”

The schools are recognized on the basis of rigorous state and national requirements for high achievement and significant improvement. The students in each of these schools are high achievers in English language arts and mathematics, and many serve a significant number of economically disadvantaged students.

Photo: Crater Lake, July 4, 1998 (Sean O’Neill / Flickr CC)

Illinois: 16 public schools and 9 private schools

In Illinois, 16 public schools, including two high schools—Lemont and Neuqua Valley—and nine private schools were named 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools.

And as Ms DeVos spoke of diversity, we can report that this mission was accomplished in the Land of Lincoln: the public schools came from 14 different districts, have enrollments ranging from 206 to 3,836 students, and serve a student population that is eligible for free or reduced-price meals at rates ranging from 8 to 60 percent, the Illinois State Board of Education noted.

“Congratulations to the leaders, educators, students, families, and staff at our 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “I spend a lot of time visiting schools across the state. The creativity, aspiration, and deep care and commitment I see inspires me. These schools have earned this prestigious award, and the State Board is incredibly proud of their efforts.”

Maryland: 6 public schools and 7 private schools

Six public schools (no high schools) and seven private schools were named 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools in the Old Line State.

“Maryland has some of the best schools in the nation, and our great teachers and students are vital to their success,” Governor Larry Hogan said in a press release. Referring to the six pubic schools on the list, he added, “These six schools offer an exceptional teaching and learning environment for our students, and I congratulate them on this tremendous achievement.”

States can only nominate a public school for the honor once every five years, and Maryland didn’t nominate any high schools this year, but all six public schools named were recognized as Blue Ribbon schools in Maryland back in December 2016.

Private schools are nominated not by state school leaders but by CAPE, the Council for American Private Education.

Referring, as well, to the public schools in Maryland receiving the honor, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said, “This honor truly recognizes the quality of work and instruction being provided to our students by our Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools. Each school’s innovative achievements in preparing students for the future deserves our admiration and respect. Congratulations to our National Blue Ribbon School students and staff.”

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.