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September 17, 2003

U.S. Department of Education

Paige Announces First List of No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today named 214 public and private elementary and secondary schools as the first ones to be honored under the new No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools Program. The new 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 either of two assessment criteria:

  • Schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that dramatically improve student performance to a high level on state assessment or assessments referenced against national norms at a particular grade, as determined by the state's Chief State School Officer (CCSO); and,
  • Schools whose students, regardless of background, achieve in the top 10 percent on state tests.

Of the schools submitted by each state, at least one-third must meet the criterion of having 40 percent of the students from disadvantaged backgrounds and showing dramatic improvement.

"In keeping with the principles of the No Child Left Behind Act, we are rewarding schools based on student achievement results, not process," Paige said. "Starting this year, the program has a new name —No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools—and it recognizes schools that produce results for all of their students regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or zip code."

Every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Department of Defense Education Agency has an assigned number of possible schools based on the number of students and the number of schools in the state. The state's CCSO nominates public schools and the Council for American Private education (CAPE) nominates private schools. Once the secretary has the nominations from the CCSO and CAPE, the secretary invites the nominated schools to submit applications for possible recognition as a No Child Left Behind -- Blue Ribbon School.

"I am delighted to congratulate the principals, teachers, parents, and students of the 2003 No Child Left Behind -- Blue Ribbon Schools," Paige said. "These schools are national models of excellence that others can learn from and are meeting President Bush's mission to ensure that every child learns, and no child is left behind."

The 2003 No Child Left Behind -- Blue Ribbon Schools will be honored at an awards ceremony with Secretary Paige in Washington, D.C., October 30-31.

Further information on the program and a list of current winners can be accessed at

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777