Five Greater Bay Area schools have been included in this year’s cohort of National Blue Ribbon Schools recognized by the United States Department of Education for their overall academic performance and progress in closing achievement gaps among students.

Around 353 schools across the country were recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2023, including 33 schools in California, the Department of Education said.

Among the 33 California schools, five are located in the Greater Bay Area, including John Yehall Chin Elementary School, Jose Ortega Elementary School and Ulloa Elementary School, in the San Francisco Unified School District; Middle College High School in San Pablo, part of the West Contra Costa Unified School District; and Stockton’s Middle College High School at San Joaquin Delta College, in the Lodi Unified School District.

“The honorees for our 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award have set a national example for what it means to ‘raise the bar’ in education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a statement.

“The leaders, educators and staff at our National Blue Ribbon Schools continually inspire me with their dedication to fostering academic excellence and building positive school cultures that support students of all backgrounds to thrive academically, socially and emotionally,” he added.

With its 40th cohort, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed approximately 10,000 awards to more than 9,700 schools.

Recognition of ‘exemplary’ achievement

The National Blue Ribbon School award recognizes the efforts of students, educators, families and communities in attaining “exemplary” achievement, the department said. It added that the National Blue Ribbon Schools “represent the full diversity of American schools and serve students of every background.”

According to the education department, National Blue Ribbon Schools have leaders who uphold high standards of excellence, demonstrate effective and innovative teaching and learning, and support their teachers and staff through meaningful professional learning.

In addition, the schools use data from many sources to drive instruction, students are incentivized to strive for success, and families, communities and educators work together toward common goals. 

The education department recognizes schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates.

Schools in the Exemplary High-Performing category are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Meanwhile, Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students. 

Nominated schools also complete an extensive narrative application describing their school culture and philosophy, curriculum, assessments, instructional practices, professional development, leadership structures, and parent and community involvement. 

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The Department invites nominations for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education.

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