Skip Program Navigation
National Blue Ribbon Schools Program

Funding Status
Current Section  Eligibility
Performance
 Office of Communications and Outreach Home
Eligibility and Performance Award Criteria

Eligibility for Public Schools: The Department invites Chief State School Officers (CSSOs) for all states and the District of Columbia, the territories, the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) to nominate schools for recognition as National Blue Ribbon Schools. In submitting nominated schools, the CSSO of each state and these entities must certify that the nominated schools meet the minimum requirements established by the Department for nomination. As described below, states and nominating entities must rely on their accountability and assessment systems to identify schools for submission to the Secretary.

At least one-third of the public schools nominated by each state must be schools with a high percentage of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. A student from a "disadvantaged background" is defined by the CSSO of each state. The definition may include economically disadvantaged students, that is, students who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals; students with disabilities; students who are limited English proficient; migrant students; and/or students receiving services under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. "High percentage" means at least 40 percent unless a state has found that this criterion restricts the number of schools available for nomination. Such a state may propose to use a percentage lower than 40 percent as long as the proposed percentage is no lower than the state's overall (average) percentage of students from disadvantaged backgrounds as defined by the state. The Department also recommends that nominated schools reflect the demographic and geographic diversity of the state's public school-age population.

Each state's nomination criteria must pertain equally to all public schools nominated by the state.

Performance Award Criteria for Public Schools: Public schools nominated for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award must meet one of two eligibility criteria:

  1. Exemplary High Performing Schools: "High performing" is defined by the CSSO of each state, but at a minimum means:

    1. The school must be in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state when schools are ranked on
      1. the performance of all students who participated in the most recently administered state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics, or
      2. 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 graduation rates or other indicators in the State accountability system.
    2. b. For each of the school's subgroups meeting the State's minimum size requirement, the school must be in the top 40 percent of all public schools in the state when schools are ranked on:
      1. 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
      2. 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 graduation rates or other indicators in the State accountability system.
    3. For high schools, the school must be in the top 15 percent of all high schools in the state when high schools are ranked on the most recently available graduation rate.

  2. Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools: "Achievement gap closing" is defined by the CSSO of each state, but at a minimum means:

    1. For each of the school's subgroups meeting the State's minimum size requirement, the school must be in the top 15 percent of all public schools in the state when schools are ranked on the school's progress in closing the gap between the performance of the school's subgroup and the state's all-students group (comparing the most recent school year in which the state assessments were administered and the school year 2-4 years prior to that) on:
      1. the state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics, or
      2. 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 graduation rates or other indicators in the State accountability system.
    2. For each of the school's subgroups meeting the State's minimum size requirement, the school must be in the top 40 percent of all public schools in the state when schools are ranked on:
      1. 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
      2. 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 graduation rates or other indicators in the State accountability system.
    3. For each of a high school's subgroups meeting the State's minimum size requirement, the high school must be in the top 40 percent of all public high schools in the state when high schools are ranked on the most recently available graduation rate for the subgroup.
    4. The increase in the performance of all students in the school between the most recent school year in which the state assessments were administered and the school year 2-4 years prior to that, must not be less than the increase over the same period in the performance of all public school students in the state on:
      1. the state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics, or
      2. a composite index that includes these assessment results and may also include assessment results in other subject areas or other student performance measures, such as graduation rates or other indicators in the State accountability system.

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. States with a large percentage of schools with fewer than 100 students enrolled may include up to a similar percentage of these schools in their nominations. However, each school must have assessment data for at least 10 students in each tested grade for both reading (or English language arts) and mathematics.

All nominated public schools must meet the state's measures of interim progress in the state accountability system or other performance targets that are set for the school year in question in at least reading (or English language arts) and mathematics and graduation rates and possibly other academic indicators, for the all students group. Additionally, nominated schools must have assessment participation rates of at least 95 percent using the most recent accountability results available, for the all students group. Finally, in order to meet all eligibility requirements, all nominated public schools must be certified by the state prior to September 2019 announcement of National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U. S. Secretary of Education.

Eligibility for Non-Public Schools: The Department invites the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) to nominate schools that meet the criteria for recognition. Non-public schools interested in being nominated should contact CAPE directly at www.capenet.org/brs.html. In submitting nominated schools, CAPE must certify that the schools meet the minimum requirements established by the Department and describe any other criteria used to nominate the non-public schools.

Performance Criteria for Non-Public Schools: Non-public schools nominated for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Exemplary High Performing Schools: "High performing" means:
    1. That the achievement of the school's students in the most recent year tested places the school in the top 15 percent in the nation in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics as measured by a nationally normed test or in the top 15 percent of its state as measured by a state test. If a non-public school administers both state tests and nationally normed tests, the school must be in the top 15 percent in both.
    2. Disaggregated results for student groups, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, must be similar to the results for all students tested.
    3. The graduation rate for non-public high schools must be 95% or higher in the most recent year.


   
Last Modified: 10/04/2018