Maryland’s Blue Ribbon Schools Program
The program recognizes schools that exhibit sustained high performance and/or significant improvement in student achievement in mathematics and reading as measured by Maryland State Assessments. The program is administered by the Maryland State Department of Education. Maryland’s selected Blue Ribbon Schools are honored in the State in ceremonies and with gifts and prizes. They are also nominated to become National Blue Ribbon Schools, an awards program of the U.S. Department of Education.
What Are the Selection Criteria?
There are two assessment categories that must be met prior to being selected as a Blue Ribbon School. Category 1 includes high achieving schools. These schools must score in the top 10% of all Maryland schools in mathematics and reading in the year of selection. Subgroup performance must rank in at least the top 40%. Percentile rankings are determined by the Maryland State Department of Education and are generated by school category (elementary, middle, high). High achievement must be maintained over a five year period. Category 2 includes schools that are “beating the odds” in improvement or in above average achievement in the year of selection, often demonstrating dramatic gains in mathematics and reading. These schools must be in the top 40% of all Maryland schools in their category and must reflect a substantial number of economically or other disadvantaged populations. For example, a minimum of 40% of the school’s students would qualify for free and reduced-priced meals (FARMS) or 40% or more would be second language (LEP) students. Improvement data for category 2 schools also must be demonstrated over a five year period.
Can We Apply to Become a Blue Ribbon School?
Schools do not apply for this award unless they are first selected by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) as a Maryland Blue Ribbon School. Based on Maryland’s student population, MSDE can identify up to six schools per year that qualify for Maryland Blue Ribbon School Awards. These six schools are also nominated by MSDE to the U.S. Department of Education and then invited by the U.S. Secretary of Education to complete the application to become a National Blue Ribbon School. In the past four years, all nominated Maryland public schools also won National Blue Ribbon Awards. If a school believes it has achieved at the required levels for Blue Ribbon School awards, it can contact the Program’s Executive Director (contact information is below).
What Happens When We Become a Maryland Blue Ribbon School?
Recognition immediately raises the status of Blue Ribbon Schools. They are honored by the State Superintendent and numerous elected officials at a State dinner in Annapolis. The schools and principals are also honored by the Maryland General Assembly with tributes on the floor of the House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate. The State Superintendent, elected officials, corporate sponsors, and other dignitaries visit each winning school during a scheduled Blue Ribbon Schools Tours of Excellence.
Gifts and Prizes and Maryland Sponsors
Corporate sponsorship contributes to Blue Ribbon School events as well as gifts and prizes. Each Blue Ribbon School receives a monetary award, plaque, Maryland Blue Ribbon Flag and an Honors Reception and Dinner. Additional large gifts for each school include:
- Smart Interactive White Board, projector, document camera, 32 pack student response system, wireless slate, and audio system and training valued at $16,000– donated by SMART Technologies
- A school-wide pizza party – donated by Joe Corbi’s Pizza
Maryland Underwriters include:
McDonald’s Family of Greater Baltimore
State Farm Insurance
National Blue Ribbon School Information
State Departments of Education across the United States are responsible for nominating their schools for National Blue Ribbon Awards. Schools cannot apply for awards unless first selected by their State Department of Education. Programs that advertise conferences that prepare schools to win the award are not affiliated with the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program or process. For information on National Blue Ribbon Schools see the U.S. Department of Education website.
Blue Ribbon Schools Program Fact Sheet