(BATON ROUGE, LA) - The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) today recognized six Louisiana public schools as 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The Blue Ribbon Schools program honors schools that are either high-performing or have closed achievement gaps, especially among minority or disadvantaged students. These schools demonstrate that all students can achieve at high levels. Nominated schools submit applications to the USDOE for the award.
"The leaders, educators, students, and families of these six schools should be incredibly proud of what they have accomplished," said State Superintendent John White. "Their ability to either steadily improve student achievement over subsequent years or consistently remain one of the top performing schools in the state is a commendable achievement worthy of this distinguished honor."
All six of Louisiana's selected schools are recognized as "Exemplary High Performing Schools" and are among the state's highest-performing schools as measured by state assessments. Student subgroup performance and high school graduation rates are also at the highest levels.
The 2017 Blue Ribbon Schools include:
- Baton Rouge Foreign Language Immersion Magnet, East Baton Rouge: Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet (FLAIM) serves 400 students in grades kindergarten through five from across the district and embraces the diversity of its students and faculty, which come from many different cultural and economic backgrounds. The school offers "one-way immersion" curriculum, meaning English-speaking students are immersed in a second language through content instruction in French, Spanish or Mandarin for 65 to 70 percent of the school day. The immersion theme is integrated throughout the school by native speaking teachers teaching math, science and social studies in the immersion language as well as collaboration by ELA and ancillary teachers to support the language program through projects, and language based events. Teaching the whole child is the basis of the FLAIM's philosophy, and in addition to language, students actively engage with music, physical education and extracurricular activities.
- Bayou Vista Elementary School, St. Mary Parish: Bayou Vista Elementary is a rural neighborhood Pre-K through fifth grade school located in southeastern Louisiana. The school has a current enrollment of 351 students, of which 19 percent are special education students. Nearly three-fourths of the school's student population receives free or reduced lunch. The school's vision is to provide opportunities for all students to achieve their personal best, become responsible and productive citizens, and embrace lifelong learning in a safe and positive environment. In 2016, Bayou Vista Elementary was rated an "A" school for the third consecutive year and identified as a Top Gains School in recognition of a nine-point growth from the previous year's performance score. It attributes its success to community involvement, strong leadership, effective teaching and a school climate that promotes learning and engagement.
- Forest Heights Academy, East Baton Rouge Parish: Serving the North Baton Rouge community since its creation in 2004, Forest Heights Academy of Excellence provides predominately low income students with high quality, innovative instruction from Pre-K through fifth grade. The dedicated academic magnet school offers a student-centered curriculum that emphasizes the visual and performing arts and encourages each child to develop academically, physically, socially and emotionally. As a result of its work, the school has been recognized as a Blue-Ribbon School by the Louisiana Board of Realtors, named a National School of Distinction by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, spotlighted in a national video, awarded the George Rodrigue Foundation's Art in Education award and lauded by the parish school board and metro council.
- Midland High School, Acadia Parish: Midland High was opened in 1956, following the consolidation of three area schools located in rural south Louisiana. The surrounding communities were settled by French, Acadian, and German immigrants in the 1800s, creating a rich culture full of strong traditions. Much like tradition, long-lasting leadership and community engagement are key pillars in its mission. The school earned an "A" letter grade in 2015-2016 and has maintained steady growth in its School Performance Score. It attributes students' academic success, in part, to a four-day school week that requires remediation for failing students on Fridays. Students who fail a subject are required to attend three Fridays at the beginning of the new nine weeks for tutoring to prevent future failing grades. Students are also encouraged to volunteer for Friday Remediation to improve grades through additional tutoring, completing makeup work and/or extra assignments. In addition to its innovative remediation schedule, the school credits its use of ACT practice tests and its AP course offerings for its gains.
- Northwestern State University Middle Lab School, Natchitoches Parish: NSU Middle Lab School, located on Northwestern State University's Natchitoches campus, serves students in grades six through eight, while achieving its dual mission of also preparing future teachers for the classroom through a partnership with the university's Teacher Education Center. This innovative setting has resulted in gains for both students and educators. For the past five years, the school has received an "A" rating from the state, and has twice been recognized as a "Top Gains School" for upward growth in student achievement. NSU Middle Lab has also been commended for showing consistency between teacher evaluation ratings and student growth on state testing. The school credits its success to its safe, caring learning community, a standards-based approach to curriculum, high expectations for students to demonstrate work ethic and personal responsibility, strong professional practice, and the development and growth of a data-driven positive behavior support system.
- Vincent Settlement Elementary School, Calcasieu Parish: Vincent Settlement Elementary is located in a rural community that serves more than 400 students in Pre-K through fifth grades. For the last 12 years, the school has consistently been a high performing school, labeled a "Top Gains" school by the state and named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2008. Those acknowledgements have fueled sense of pride, accomplishment, and drive for excellence throughout our community, and as a result, the school has developed a reputation for doing whatever it takes to provide the highest quality of services to students. Among those efforts, the school credits its success to its active parent teacher organization, technology-driven curriculum, dedication to innovative teaching and learning resources, student programs and activities, passionate and professional leadership team, and inspiring campus environment.
An awards ceremony will be held November 6-7, 2017, in Washington, D.C. to honor each of the recipients. Each winner will receive an engraved plaque and flag signifying its status as a 2017 Blue Ribbon School to display on their campus.
For more information on the National Blue Ribbon Schools program, click here.