"The achievement gap is closing and that is great news for every student," Spellings said. "These Blue Ribbon Schools are an example of what teachers and students can achieve. For the first time, we are insisting on results and accountability in return for our federal investment in education. In the three-plus years since No Child Left Behind was signed into law, we've learned a new equation: 'Accountability plus high expectations plus resources equals results.'"
A total of 295 schools across the nation were named Blue Ribbon Schools. The No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes schools that make significant progress in closing the achievement gap or whose students achieve at very high levels. The schools are selected based on one of three criteria:
· Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that dramatically improve student performance on state tests.
· Schools whose students, regardless of background, achieve in the top 10 percent of their state on state tests.
· Private schools that achieve in the top 10 percent in the nation.
Under No Child Left Behind, schools must make Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, in reading and language arts and mathematics. Each state -- not the federal government -- sets its own academic standards and benchmark goals, because each state knows best what goals and criteria are most appropriate for its school districts.
The No Child Left Behind Act is the bipartisan landmark education reform law designed to change the culture of America's schools by closing the achievement gap, offering more flexibility to states, giving parents more information and options and teaching students based on what works. Under the law's strong accountability provisions, states must describe how they will close the achievement gap and make sure all students, including those with disabilities, achieve academically.
A list of all 295 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools for 2005 is available at http://www.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/2005/index.html. For more information about the Blue Ribbon Schools program, visit http://www.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/index.html.