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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.  What constitutes "disadvantaged backgrounds" 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 English language learners; 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 threshold precludes identifying a sufficient number of such schools.  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.

Each state's nomination criteria must pertain equally to all public schools nominated by the state. The nomination criteria for high schools include additional performance criteria based on graduation rates and measures of college and career readiness, but these criteria must pertain equally to all nominated high schools.  The Department also recommends that nominated schools reasonably reflect the demographic and geographic diversity of the state's public schools.

Performance Award Criteria for Public Schools: In order to be eligible for nomination, a school must meet several criteria based on the performance of its students on state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics or a composite of performance on these assessments with other measures of student performance (e.g., student growth on state assessments, performance on state assessments in other subjects, graduation rates, or other indicators in the state's accountability system). 

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtually no states administered assessments in the past 2019-2020 school year.  Based on input from state NBRS liaisons, it appears feasible for most states to nominate additional schools based on assessment results for the 2018-2019 school year.  In the performance criteria for nominating schools described below, all references to most recent state assessment results, graduation rates, measures of college and career readiness, and other measures refer to results for the 2018-2019 school year.

>The performance criteria for high schools have been expanded to include a measure of college and career readiness (CCR).  This measure should reflect the CCR indicator(s) for high schools in the state's accountability system (e.g., attendance, participation/performance in advanced coursework or CTE classes or workplace learning, performance on college entry exams, postsecondary enrollment, trade school or workforce enrollment, etc.).

A school may be nominated in either of two performance award categories:  Exemplary High Performing and Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing.  The student performance criteria that a school must meet in order to be nominated in each of these two categories are described below:

  1. Exemplary High Performing Schools."High performing" is defined by the CSSO of each state, but at a minimum means that the school meets the performance criteria summarized in the following table:
Criterion Threshold Measure for Ranking Schools

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

1a.  Whole School Performance

Top 15% in the State

Reading\ELA and Math Performance Separately

Reading\ELA and Math Performance Combined

Composite Score Combining  Reading\ELA, Math, and Other Measures

1b. School Subgroup Performance

Top 40% in the State for Each Subgroup

Reading\ELA and Math Performance Separately

Reading\ELA and Math Performance Combined

Composite Score Combining Reading\ELA, Math, and Other  Measures

1c.  High School Graduation Rate and CCR Measure

Top 15% in the State

Graduation Rate and CCR Measure Separately

Graduation Rate and CCR Measure Combined

Composite Score Combining Graduation Rate and CCR Measure with Reading/ELA, Math and Other Measures

 
  1. 1a. Whole School Performance.  All schools are ranked[1] based on the performance of all students in the school on the most recently administered state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics.[2]  The state may rank schools on these two subjects separately or rank schools on the two subjects combined (e.g., sum or average). The state may also combine performance on these assessments with other measures of student performance (e.g., student growth on state assessments, performance on state assessments in other subjects, graduation rates, or other indicators in the state's accountability system) and rank the schools on the resulting composite score/index.  Schools in the top 15 percent of each ranking for reading/ELA and mathematics (separately, combined, or as part of a composite score/index) meet the threshold for this criterion.
  2. 1b. School Subgroup Performance. For each of the state's subgroups,[3] all schools are ranked based on the performance of the students in that subgroup on  the most recently administered state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics (separately, combined, or as part of a composite score/index).  Schools in the top 40 percent of each ranking for each of their sufficiently large subgroups[4] meet the threshold for this criterion.
  3. 1c. High School Graduation Rate and CCR Measure. All high schools are ranked based on the state's 2018-2019 graduation rate and on the most recent measure of CCR (separately, combined, or as part of a composite score/index).[5]  High schools in the top 15 percent of each ranking meet the threshold for this criterion.
 
  1. Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools: "Achievement gap closing"is defined by the CSSO of each state, but at a minimum means that the school meets the performance criteria summarized in the following table:
Criterion Threshold Measure for Ranking Schools

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

2a. School Subgroup Improvement

Top 15% in the State for One orMore Subgroups

Improvement in Reading\ELA andMath Separately

Improvement in  Reading\ELA and Math Combined

Improvement in Composite ScoreCombining Reading\ELA, Math, and Other Measures

2b. School Subgroup Performance

Top 40% in the State for Each Subgroup

Reading\ELA and Math Performance Separately

Reading\ELA and Math Performance Combined

Composite Score CombiningReading\ELA, Math, and Other Measures

2c. High School Subgroup Graduation Rate and CCR Measure

Top 40% in the State for EachSubgroup

Graduation Rate and CCR MeasureSeparately

Graduation Rate and CCR MeasureCombined

Composite Score CombiningGraduation Rate and CCR Measure with Reading/ELA, Math and Other  Measures

2d. Whole School Improvement

Equals or Exceeds Whole StateImprovement

Improvement in Reading\ELA andMath Separately

Improvement in Reading\ELA andMath Combined

Improvement in Composite ScoreCombining Reading\ELA, Math, and Other Measures

 
  1. 2a. School Subgroup Improvement. For each of the state's subgroups,[6] all schools are ranked based on the increase in the performance of that subgroup on the most recently administered state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics (separately, combined, or as part of a composite score/index), comparing the results for the most recent school year in which the state assessments were administered to the results for the school year 2-4 years before.  Schools in the top 15 percent of each ranking for at least one of their sufficiently large subgroups[7] meet the threshold for this criterion.
  2. 2b. School Subgroup Performance. For each of the state's subgroups, all schools are ranked based on the performance of the students in that subgroup on the most recently administered state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics (separately, combined, or as part of a composite score/index).  Schools in the top 40 percent of each ranking for each of their sufficiently large subgroups meet the threshold for this criterion.
  3. 2c. High School Subgroup Graduation Rate and CCR Measure.  For each of the state's subgroups, all high schools are ranked based on the state's graduation rate for the 2018-2019 school year and on the most recent measure of CCR (separately, combined, or as part of a composite score/index).  High schools in the top 40 percent of this ranking for each of their sufficiently large subgroups meet the threshold for this criterion.
  4. 2d. Whole School Improvement. In order for a school to meet the threshold for this criterion, the increase in the performance of all students in the school on state assessments in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics (separately, combined, or as part of a composite score/index), comparing the results for the most recent school year in which the state assessments were administered to the results for the school year 2-4 years before, must equal or exceed the increase in the performance of all public school students in the state over the same period.

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 2021 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-profit, 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 and mathematics as measured by a nationally normed test or in the top 15 percent of its state as measured by a state test.
    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.

Notes:
  1. The state may rank schools based on all grades served or rank schools separately for different grade spans or grades.
  2. This includes students tested with accommodations. 
  3. States are encouraged to nominate schools based on the performance of the subgroups included in their accountability system.
  4. A "sufficiently large subgroup" is one that meets the minimum "n-size" for subgroups in the state's accountability system.
  5. If a state uses a composite in 1a that includes graduation rate and CCR measure(s) for ranking high schools, their composite scores may be identical to their composite scores used in 1c.
  6. States are encouraged to nominate schools based on the performance of the subgroups included in their accountability system.
  7. A "sufficiently large subgroup" is one that meets the minimum "n-size" for subgroups in the state's accountability system.


   
Last Modified: 10/01/2020