On Thursday, September 9, 2010, the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy as one of the 2010 National Blue Ribbon Schools. Secretary Duncan was joined by Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and George Washington University Provost Steve Lerman for the announcement at School Without Walls Senior High School, a 2010 Blue Ribbon School in Washington, D.C.
The schools – 254 public and 50 private – were honored at an awards ceremony on November 15-16, 2010 in Washington D.C. JKHA was one of the two Jewish schools recognized.
“Our nation has a responsibility to help all children realize their full potential,” Duncan said. “Schools honored with the Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to achievement to ensuring that students learn and succeed. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and must receive a quality education.”
JKHA Lower and Middle School was honored for the very high level of achievement of our students. Each year since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has sought out schools where students attain and maintain high academic goals, including those that beat the odds.
The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools based on one of two criteria:
1) Schools whose students, regardless of backgrounds, are high performing. These are schools ranked among the state’s highest performing schools as measured by their performance on state assessments or in the case of private schools, that score at the highest performance level on tests referenced by national norms in at least the most recent year tested.
2) Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that improve student performance to high levels as measured by the school’s performance on state assessments or nationally-normed tests.
Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy received the Blue Ribbon for the high performance of its students in 1st through 8th grades. A total of 413 schools nationwide can be nominated, based on the number of K-12 students and the number of schools in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The chief state school officer nominates public schools and the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) submits private schools’ nominations. The schools are invited by the secretary of education to submit an application for possible recognition as a Blue Ribbon School.
The program is part of a larger Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about best school leadership and teaching practices.
The Blue Ribbon Schools Program sets a standard of excellence for all schools striving for the highest level of achievement. Each year since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has sought out schools where students attain and maintain high academic goals, including those that beat the odds.
For many schools, attaining the Blue Ribbon School award and recognition is a realization of a long-held dream. There is much excitement in the school community and the local media eagerly profiles schools that have attained the recognition. The schools are honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., where each Blue Ribbon school receives a plaque and a flag to signify its Blue Ribbon School status. These schools serve as models for other schools throughout the nation and details of their achievement are shared on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
The Blue Ribbon Schools program began in 1982, when the Secretary of Education, Terrel Bell commissioned a study of American education. The report, called A Nation at Risk, described a “rising tide” of mediocre schools that threatened the nation’s future. In part, it galvanized the extraordinary energy that has been devoted to educational research and school reform over the last quarter century.
Secretary Bell created the Blue Ribbon Schools Award to bring the best U.S. schools to public attention and to recognize those schools whose students thrived and excelled. Working with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Bell launched the Blue Ribbon Schools and the National Distinguished Principals Programs. Both highlighted outstanding models of American schools and school leadership.
Since then, the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Schools Program has honored many of America’s most successful schools. The Blue Ribbon Schools Program sets a high standard that should be a goal for all improving schools and schools striving for high levels of achievement. A Blue Ribbon School flag waving overhead has become a mark of excellence a symbol of quality recognized by everyone from parents to policy-makers in thousands of communities.