Education Letter to the Editor

One State’s Continuation of ‘Blue Ribbon’ Schools Idea

May 12, 2008 1 min read

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I read with interest the letter to the editor in your April 30, 2008, edition promoting the return of the pre-2002 National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.

The Arizona Educational Foundation continues supporting and administering the A+ School Recognition Program throughout the state. Until 2002, the A+ Program was associated with the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, serving as Arizona’s liaison to the national program.

But in 2002, when the federal program began to recognize schools based on test scores alone, the foundation suspended its liaison role. Now, the Arizona A+ School Recognition Program lives on, adhering closely to the criteria established by the pre-2002 National Blue Ribbon Schools program.

Since 2002, 89 schools throughout the state have earned the A+ designation. Included on the list are rural, urban, suburban, Native American, high-socioeconomic, low-socioeconomic, high English-language-learner population, Title I, alternative, and charter schools. To earn this award, schools submit a detailed application that is evaluated by a team of trained judges. Selected schools receive site visits and undergo further scrutiny.

Schools that earn the A+ award have a caring culture, programs to meet students’ academic and nonacademic needs, a strong and effective curriculum, active teaching and learning in the classroom, effective professional development, strong leadership, and successful community and family involvement. To be considered, schools must have achieved the label (based on state assessment data) of “performing” or better by the Arizona Department of Education.

We support the notion that such a program at the national level should be reinstituted to identify and recognize excellence in public schools on a larger scale.

Bobbie O’Boyle

Executive Director

Arizona Educational Foundation

Phoenix, Ariz.

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