To recognize schools that are succeeding in closing the achievement gap and to help identify practices and strategies that are working, the U.S. Department of Education runs the No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools program. The program honors public and private elementary and secondary schools that make significant progress closing the achievement gap or whose students consistently achieve at very high levels. The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Plain Dealer (OH) covering U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige's visit to a No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School in Cleveland:
"U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige named Cleveland's Louisa May Alcott Elementary a national Blue Ribbon School on Friday, giving it the highest honor a school can get. 'This is the kind of school that shows what can be done,' Paige said, adding that schools like Louisa May Alcott make him impatient with school leaders who make excuses for poor performance.
"The No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon award is tied to performance on tests. About 250 schools nationally will get the award, which goes to schools in high-poverty areas that dramatically improve scores or to schools with students who earn scores in the top 10 percent statewide."
"Scores at Louisa May Alcott have always been high. Last year, 100 percent of fourth-grade students passed the writing portion of the state proficiency test. About 93 percent of third-graders passed the reading test, a rate much higher than the state average.
"Principal Maureen Berg credits a creative use of her teachers' time for the school's success. She uses federal Title 1 money to pay for a full-time science teacher for the school's seven grades, something that not all elementary schools have. The school also uses a phonics-based teaching method called 'direct instruction,' in which students at every grade level are taught reading for at least one hour a day."
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