Superintendent's Memo #256-09

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

September 11, 2009

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: United States Department of Education's No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools Recognition Program

The purpose of this memorandum is to announce an opportunity for recognition of certain schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia through the United States Department of Education's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Blue Ribbon Schools Recognition Program. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) encourages school divisions to nominate eligible schools according to the criteria.

The Blue Ribbon Schools Recognition Program honors elementary and secondary schools that have made significant progress in closing the achievement gap or schools that have students achieving at the highest levels. This program recognizes and presents elementary and secondary schools as models that meet one of two eligibility criteria:

  1. Regardless of the school's performance of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the school is high performing. "High performing" means that the achievement of the school's students in at least the highest grade tested in the latest year tested places the school in the top 10 percent of schools in the state on state assessments of reading and mathematics. Disaggregated results for student subgroups, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, must be similar to the levels of all students tested. At a minimum, the subgroup test scores in the highest grade tested in the latest year must meet the performance criterion for dramatically improving schools that define the top 40 percent of schools; or
  2. If at least 40 percent of the school's students are from disadvantaged backgrounds, a school may qualify if the achievement of its students has dramatically improved to high levels. "Dramatically improved to high levels" means (a) for at least the highest grade tested, the school has demonstrated a positive trend in test results from the earliest to the latest year reported, and (b) in at least the highest grade tested in the latest year tested, the achievement of the school's students places the school in the top 40 percent of schools in the state on state assessments of reading and mathematics. Disaggregated results for student subgroups, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, must also show improvement similar to that of all students.

If you would like the VDOE to consider a school from your division as a 2009-2010 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon nominee from Virginia, please send an e-mail indicating the name of the school to Selena.McBride@doe.virginia.gov by Friday, October 2, 2009. Please include the wording "Blue Ribbon Schools" in the subject of the e-mail. The VDOE will select nominees based on the eligibility criteria required by the United States Department of Education. Please note also that priority selection of "finalist" schools by the department will be based on those schools or school divisions that have not been nominated in the past. The department's goal is to ensure equity throughout the state whenever possible.

For questions regarding the NCLB Blue Ribbon Schools Recognition Program, please contact Mary Whitley, accreditation specialist, at (804) 225-3122 or by e-mail to Mary.Whitley@doe.virginia.gov, or Selena McBride, data management specialist, at (804) 371-4989 or by e-mail to Selena.McBride@doe.virginia.gov.

PIW/KMS/pl