4 Colorado schools named National Blue Ribbon Schools

Five elementary children sit beneath a wall mural of mountains, a red sky with yellow sun, and a brown field.
Galeton students sit beneath the school’s fourth grade mural project. The elementary school has been named a National Blue Ribbon school for 2022. (U.S. Department of Education)

Four Colorado elementary schools were named 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Education announced Friday.

Two of the four Colorado schools earned the award for closing academic gaps between all students and historically underserved groups.

Both schools are small and rural. Galeton Elementary in the Eaton School District near Greeley serves 121 students whose families work in the dairy, ranching, farming, and oil field industries, according to its application for the Blue Ribbon award. 

Sanford Elementary in southern Colorado serves all students in the community south of Alamosa in a single building. There are about 220 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

On state math and literacy tests last year, Sanford Elementary scored at or above state averages. In literacy, 43% of Sanford students scored at grade level or above, which was the same as the state average. But in math, a whopping 74% of Sanford students scored at grade level or above, far surpassing the state average of 32%. 

About two-thirds of Sanford Elementary students are white and one-third are Hispanic. More than half — 59% — qualify for subsidized school meals, a proxy for low family income. Because the school is so small, state data does not show how each group scored on the tests. State privacy rules obscure data if there are too few students in a given group.

The same is true for Galeton Elementary. But overall, 41% of Galeton students scored at or above grade level in both subjects, nearly equalling the state average in literacy and surpassing it in math. Just over half of Galeton Elementary students are white and 44% are Hispanic. Half of the students at Galeton qualify for subsidized meals.

“It’s an honor to extend my congratulations to the educators, families and communities of these four Colorado schools for this prestigious award,” Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in a statement. “Thank you for your dedication to our students and working hard every single day to ensure they can succeed in and out of the classroom.”

Two more Colorado elementary schools were recognized for overall academic excellence: Fairmount Elementary in Jeffco Public Schools and Superior Elementary in the Boulder Valley School District. Both schools bested state averages on literacy and math tests last year. 

Most students at Fairmount (88%) and Superior (77%) are white. So few students at Superior qualify for subsidized meals that the percentage shows up as an asterisk in state data. At Fairmount, 8% of students qualify for subsidized meals.

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The National Blue Ribbon award “affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content,” according to the U.S. Department of Education. Over the past 40 years, more than 9,000 schools have been awarded a National Blue Ribbon.

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering Denver Public Schools. Contact Melanie at masmar@chalkbeat.org.

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