Two Maine schools receive national recognition

AUGUSTA – Hope Elementary School and Solon Elementary School were among those recognized this month as U.S. Department of Education’s 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The two Maine schools were among 269 schools – 219 public and 50 private – from across the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education that received the national recognition. The award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students’ levels of achievement.

“Congratulations to Hope and Solon for being recognized and for the great work they are doing for students in their schools,” said Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen. “As we seek to expand the sharing of best education practices throughout our state, we have two more schools we can point to as models.”

Hope Elementary School was recognized for its performance and for providing a broad range of student leadership and co-curricular opportunities, such as Student Council, grade 8 class officers, drama, yearbook, math team and athletics to increase student involvement. Consistently above state average, test scores at the school in reading and mathematics are the highest in the Mid-coast area.

Solon Elementary School was recognized for its performance and for creating lasting parent and community connections. Student achievement is a top priority of the veteran staff, who regularly analyze test results to set improvement goals for the whole school, classrooms and individual students.  They celebrate successes and set targets for improvement. Solon is also a former Title I Distinguished School.

The announcement comes within days of Maine’s submitting an application to the U.S. Department of Education for flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

“As we seek approval for a better and fairer way of holding our schools accountable, these two schools show us the importance of not only identifying struggling schools, but recognizing ones that are making great progress, too,” Bowen said.

Since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has annually sought out schools where students attain and maintain high academic goals, including those that beat the odds. In its 30-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on nearly 7,000 of America’s schools, including nearly 50 in Maine. The commissioner in each state nominates schools, which are then invited by the secretary of education to submit a formal application.

A list of the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools is available at http://www.ed.gov/nationalblueribbonschools.

For more information, visit the Maine Department of Education website: http://www.maine.gov/doe

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