Superintendent’s Memo #316-11

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

December 9, 2011

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  United States Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon Schools 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 National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) encourages school divisions to nominate eligible schools according to the criteria.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors elementary and secondary schools whose students achieve at very high levels or schools that make significant progress in closing the achievement gap. This program sets a standard of excellence for all schools striving for the highest level of achievement. Schools are eligible for National Blue Ribbon recognition if they meet either one of two criteria:

  1. Regardless of the school's performance of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the school is exemplary high performing. "High Performing" means the achievement of the school’s students on the most recent year’s test scores places the school among the highest performing schools in the state on state assessments of reading (or English language arts) and mathematics. Disaggregated results for student subgroups, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, must be similar to the results for all students tested; or

  2. If at least 40 percent of the school’s students are from disadvantaged backgrounds, a school may qualify if it places among schools that have made the most progress in improving student achievement. “Made the most progress” means (a) the school is among the top 10 percent of schools that have shown the greatest improvement in student achievement in the state over the previous five years on state assessments of reading (or English language arts) and mathematics, and (b) disaggregated results for student subgroups, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, must show improvement similar to that of all students.

Additional information is available on the U. S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School Program Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/index.html.

If you would like the VDOE to consider a school from your division as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon nominee from Virginia, please send an e-mail indicating the name of the school to Selena.McBride@doe.virginia.gov by Friday, December 23, 2011. Please include the wording "National 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 National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, please contact Selena McBride, grants and reports manager, at (804) 371-4989 or by e-mail to Selena.McBride@doe.virginia.gov, or Dr. Susan FitzPatrick, grants and reports manager, at (804) 225-2897 or by e-mail to Susan.FitzPatrick@doe.virginia.gov.

PIW/KMS/pl