Wheatridge staff and students recently learned their school was selected as a National Blue Ribbon School. The United States Secretary of Education, John B. King, Jr., announced Wheatridge Middle School was a recipient of the highest academic award presented by the United States Department of Education – the National Blue Ribbon designation.
Of the 329 schools nationwide to receive the award, only four schools in Kansas was honored with this distinguished award. Wheatridge Middle is the only middle school selected in Kansas and is the only Kansas school selected in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Wheatridge Middle is the second school in USD 231 history to receive the Blue Ribbon Award. Sunflower Elementary received a Blue Ribbon Award in 2011.
“The National Blue Ribbon Award is a public acknowledgement and confirmation to the hard work and dedication of our students, staff, parents and community,” said Rob Shippy, USD 231 board president. “The National Blue Ribbon Award is the highest distinction an academic institution can receive nationally, and on behalf of the entire board, we are extremely proud of this outstanding achievement and honor.”
“We believe in the importance of always seeking out new ways to continuously improve what we do for the sake of our students,” said Pam Stranathan, superintendent. “We are so proud of this national honor because this confirms that we are doing our jobs – we are doing what is best for our students. That is why we are here.”
The National Blue Ribbon program honors elementary and secondary schools that make significant progress in closing the achievement gap, recognizing those schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and have dramatically improved student performance to high levels in reading and mathematics.
To be nominated as an Exemplary High Performing School, the school must be in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state when schools are ranked on:
-the performance of all students who participated in the most recently administered state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics, or
-a composite index that includes these assessment results, and may also include assessment results in other subject areas and/or other student performance measures, such as attendance or graduation rates. The school also must be in the top 40 percent of all schools in the state when schools are ranked on:
-the performance of all students in the subgroup who participated in the most recently administered state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics, or
-a composite index that includes these assessment results and may also include assessment results in other subject areas and/or other student performance measures, such as attendance or graduation rates for high schools.
In addition to meeting the above performance criteria, a nominated school must have at least 100 students enrolled and have assessment data for at least 10 students in each tested grade for both reading (or English language arts) and mathematics. One-third of the public schools nominated by each state must have enrollments that include at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In addition, all nominated public schools must meet their state’s accountability requirements for the all-students group and all subgroups. This includes having participation rates of at least 95 percent and meeting performance targets in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics and other academic indicators (i.e., attendance rate and graduation rate), using the most recent accountability results available for the year prior to nomination (2014-2015). Finally, all nominated public schools must also meet their state’s accountability requirements based on the most recent accountability results available for the year in which they are nominated (2015-2016).
A committee consisting of school administrators, staff members from previously honored NBR schools, Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), the Kansas Association of School Boards, and the Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals review data on schools deemed to have dramatically improved to high levels and those achieving at high levels regardless of demographics. These selected schools are then nominated by the Kansas Department of Education to the United States Secretary of Education. Once nominated, a lengthy application is required to be submitted to the US Department of Education by the nominated school.
“National Blue Ribbon Schools are proof that we can prepare every child for college and meaningful careers,” said King. “Your schools are on the cutting edge, pioneering innovative educational practices—professional learning communities, project-based learning, social and emotional learning, positive behavior systems—making you shining examples for your communities, your state and the nation.”
An assembly honoring the 530 students and 50 staff members was held Sept. 28 in the Wheatridge Gymnasium. State and local dignitaries were present to share in the celebration of this tremendous accomplishment. The national ceremonial award program will be held in Washington DC, on Nov. 8.