BY J. EDWARD MORENO
Of the 24 Texas schools recognized as 2018 Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education, 11 are located in the Rio Grande Valley.
The PSJA, Edinburg, Valley View, La Joya, Mercedes, Hidalgo and Harlingen school districts, in addition to IDEA Public Schools, each had campuses earning such a distinction.
Nationally, 349 schools were selected based on “overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups,” according to a U.S. Department of Education news release. Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year by their state’s top education official; 26 were nominated by the Texas Education Agency.
“I’m pleased to celebrate with you as your school is named a National Blue Ribbon School,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a video message to the honorees. “We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives. Congratulations on your students’ accomplishments and for your extraordinary commitment to meeting their unique needs.”
Based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates, all schools are honored in one of two performance categories: Exemplary High Performing Schools and Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools.
Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests, according to the release. Jimmy Carter Early College High School in La Joya and Mercedes Early College High School were recognized in this category, along with Valley View Elementary and Valley View South Elementary.
The remaining seven Valley schools that were recognized in the Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools category, which makes them among the state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students over the past five years, the release states.
For the third year in a row, two Edinburg CISD elementary schools were recognized as Blue Ribbon Schools. However, this is the first year Anne L. Magee Elementary and Hargill Elementary schools have been recognized.
Schools from Harlingen CISD, Hidalgo ISD and IDEA Public Schools were also under the Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools category, along with Carmen Anaya Elementary School and Cesar Chavez Elementary School, two PSJA ISD schools located in south Pharr.
“We commend the hard work of our teachers, principals and staff at both schools,” PSJA ISD Superintendent Daniel King said in a news release. “This is a great day for the PSJA community. We are so proud of this accomplishment. Carmen Anaya and Cesar Chavez have been recognized as being among the best in the nation.”
The schools have been invited to receive the award at the Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony in Washington, Nov. 7-8.
Exemplary High Performing Schools:
Jimmy Carter Early College HS (La Joya ISD)
Mercedes Early College HS (Mercedes ISD)
Valley View Elem (Valley View ISD)
Valley View South Elem (Valley View ISD)
Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools:
AnneL.MageeElementary School (Edinburg CISD)
HargillElementary School (Edinburg CISD)
CarmenAnayaElementary School (PSJA ISD)
CesarChavezElementary School (PSJA ISD)
DishmanElementary School (Harlingen CISD)
IDEAMissionAcademy (IDEA Public Schools)
J.C.KellyElementary School (Hidalgo ISD)