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Two Arkansas public schools were recognized by the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday.

The department named both City Heights Elementary School in the Van Buren School District and Sequoyah Elementary School in the Russellville School District as 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools, according to an Arkansas Department of Education news release. They were among 362 schools across the country to be given this recognition.

The Blue Ribbon program, the release states, recognizes public and private schools for high academic achievement or progress toward closing the achievement gap. Both City Heights Elementary and Sequoyah Elementary received designations as exemplary high performing schools for student performance based on state assessments.

City Heights Principal Mary McCutchen said her school is excited and honored to receive an award that exemplifies excellence in education.

“I believe it’s a result of staying focused on what all of our students need,” McCutchen said. “We believe we provide the kind of education that supports students from all backgrounds with all educational needs, and we have a staff who love what they do. They come to work every day ready to go, ready to see what they can do to support kids.”

Sequoyah Principal Barbara McShane said her school is also honored to receive the recognition.

“We just credit our dedicated teachers; supportive parents and community members; and, most of all, our outstanding students,” McShane said.

The Department of Education website states eligibility to be nominated in the exemplary high performing category in the Blue Ribbon Schools Program is dependent on a school meeting certain criteria. For public schools, this is composed of whole school performance, school subgroup performance, and, for high schools, graduation rate.

The website states all schools are ranked in the field of whole school performance according to how every student in the school performs on the most recently administered state assessments in reading, or English language arts, and mathematics. The state may rank schools on these two subjects separately or combined, or it could combine performance on these assessments with other measures of student performance. This includes student growth on state assessments, performance on state assessments in other subjects, graduation rates, or other indicators in the state’s accountability system. The schools would then be ranked on the resulting composite score/index. Eligible schools must be in the top 15% of each ranking.

In the school subgroup performance category, the website states that for each of the state’s subgroups, schools are ranked based on how students in a subgroup performed on the most recently administered state assessments in the same two subjects. To qualify in this area, schools must be in the top 40% of each ranking for each of their “sufficiently large subgroups.”

Print Headline: 2 state elementary schools earn Blue Ribbon honors

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