The schools identified under the U.S. Department of Education's NCLB-Blue Ribbon School program as high achievingin the top rank of their state or rapidly closing the achievement gapvary enormously. Indeed, their successes may stem in part from their ability to see their specific local realities clearly and to respond sensitively.
There are no magic formulas. However, the principals of this year's seven profiled schools, schools characterized by both high poverty and high student achievement, did offer, on request, numerous pieces of solid advice. We have distilled the top ten:
- Set high standards, high expectations, and a rigorous curriculum. Decide on your focus and stay the course. Find the necessary resources.
- Listen to the data. If an inadequate number of students are learning to high standards, develop tutoring and test prep strategies to improve the numbers.
- Hand-pick your teachers and create a culture where the administration works for the teachers, not the other way around.
- Provide timely and intensive intervention strategies for students who are experiencing difficulties.
- Provide upward and downward opportunities for students who are strong or weak in specific content areas.
- Ensure the principal spends a lot of time in classrooms and knows what is (and is not) happening.
- Structure bilingual education so that students are effectively mainstreamed into regular classes by fourth grade.
- Ensure strong, two-way communication between school and homenot just parental involvement but family involvement.
- Provide a safe, pleasant environment before, during, and after school.
- Remember that the most important component of education is the studentsand that the teacher's most important job is doing what is best for the students.
The 2005 Blue Ribbon Schools site visited and profiled this year are:
Chase City Elementary School, Chase City, VA
PDF (244KB) | Word (5.2MB)
Dr. Jessie Hayden Elementary School, Midway City, California
PDF (215KB) | Word (528KB)
Dyersburg High School, Dyersburg, TN
PDF (263KB) | Word (663KB)
Howard T. Herber Middle School, Malverne, New York
PDF (435KB) | Word (751KB)
Sampit Elementary School, Georgetown, South Carolina
PDF (260KB) | Word (563KB)
Sunrise Elementary School, Amarillo, Texas
PDF (351KB) | Word (466KB)
The Science Academy of South Texas, Mercedes, Texas
PDF (550KB) | Word (702KB)