Five city schools earn 'Blue Ribbon' honors for their test scores

Two city charter schools and three city public schools were among just 20 schools in the state and fewer than 300 nationwide that today found out they earned “Blue Ribbon” status from the U.S. Department of Education.

The designation is given annually to schools in each state that meet certain performance standards. It does not bring any financial rewards, but it considered a feather in the cap for schools that earn it. Schools that win get a plaque and are expected to share their strategies for success.

To be nominated, schools must have top scores on state tests. They must also not have any achievement gaps within their student bodies. And after they are nominated, they must complete lengthy applications that includes short essays about their curriculum, their leadership, and how they measure success. New York State was allowed to nominate 19 schools.

The five city winners are Bronx Charter School for Excellence, P.S. 34 in Brooklyn, P.S. 191 in Queens, P.S. 203 in Queens, and Harlem Success Academy 1. This was the first year that any city charter schools took home the honor.

In at least a third of the schools each state nominates, a minimum of 40 percent of students must be considered “disadvantaged” according to federal guidelines. All of the city winners except for P.S. 203 fell into that category, along with just one other school in the state.

New York did not nominate any schools for a designation honoring improvement, nor did any middle or high school in the state win accolades.

City charter school advocates said the addition of charter schools to the winners’ roster showed that the sector was meeting high performance standards.

“This first time recognition for New York City charter schools is further evidence of their success at building great teams of leaders, teachers and staff that deliver outstanding results,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, in a statement.

“This Blue Ribbon Award goes directly to our exceptionally hard working and talented teachers and amazing scholars whose intelligence, great skill and love of learning surprise me every day,” HSA 1 Principal Jackie Albers said in a press release from the Success Academies network. Success CEO Eva Moskowitz is set to congratulate students from the school, the first in the network, at the end of the school day.