Elizabeth School No. 21 Earns National Blue Ribbon

ELIZABETH—School No. 21 of Elizabeth has been named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, one of only nine schools in New Jersey to win the award this year. 

The Blue Ribbon Award means that School No. 21 is one of the best in America.

This prestigious honor was announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Spellings named 320 schools nationwide as 2008 No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools. Only nine were selected from New Jersey. Elizabeth School No. 21 is the only one from Union County.

“Our school district is extraordinarily proud of this honor,” said Pablo Muñoz, superintendent of schools.  “Elizabeth is now recognized at a national level for having two blue ribbon schools.  This is amazing news for our district, and is a testament to the hard work of everyone on our team, teachers, parents and students. This announcement puts Elizabeth N.J. once again in the national educational spotlight.”

School No. 31 principal Michael Webb received word from the US Department of Education on Sept. 9 that School No. 21 had received the honor.  Webb served as principal of School No. 21 during the 2007-2008 school year. “This prominent national award is reflective of the dedicated professionals on our team”, said Webb. “I am very proud of their efforts.”

The award-winning school operates at Monsignor João S. Antão School No. 31. The school opened in September of 2006 and is located on South Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth.

“Elizabeth schools can achieve excellence,” Muñoz said. “Our school district can compete with the best anywhere, as long as we keep our focus on the main thing –teaching and learning.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings spoke of the elite group of schools that Elizabeth is a part of.  “These Blue Ribbon Schools are an example of what teachers and students can achieve,” Spellings said. “Now our challenge is to help other schools follow their lead by continuing to measure progress through No Child Left Behind, and by using the knowledge we’ve gained to replicate effective strategies and help every student improve.”

The No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools award distinguishes and honors schools for helping students achieve at very high levels and for making significant progress in closing the achievement gap. For the past 26 years, this prestigious program has honored more than 5,800 of America’s most successful schools.

Schools are selected based on the following two criteria:

• Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that dramatically improve student performance to high levels on state tests; and

• Schools whose students, regardless of background, achieve in the top 10 percent of their state on state tests or in the case of private schools in the top 10 percent of the nation on nationally-normed tests.

Under No Child Left Behind, schools must make Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, in reading (language arts) and mathematics. Each state—not the federal government—sets its own academic standards and benchmark goals.

Board President Armando Da Silva stated “Our school district is being recognized nationally as a result of the academic performance being achieved in our schools.  We know that Elizabeth kids can stand toe-to-toe with any of the children in the State of New Jersey.”

DaSilva stated “Our team members continue to work diligently to bring out the best in our students. Recognizing our schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools continues to highlight this achievement.”

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