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For Immediate Release: Sept. 22, 2005
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Blue Ribbon, Distinguished schools recognized

Three South Dakota schools have been identified by the U.S. Department of Education as Blue Ribbon Schools under No Child Left Behind. They are O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls, Alcester-Hudson Elementary and Corsica Elementary.

“We congratulate these three schools on being selected as Blue Ribbon Schools,” said Dr. Rick Melmer, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education. “They are among just 295 schools nationwide to receive the designation. It is a great honor.”

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) selects Blue Ribbon Schools each year. It considers applications in two categories: schools that have dramatically improved their achievement scores and schools that are consistently high performing. USDOE accepts applications from both public and private schools, as long as those schools meet certain criteria.

At the state level, the South Dakota Department of Education has identified its Distinguished Schools and Districts for 2005. Three hundred thirty South Dakota schools and 54 districts have earned the Distinguished designation under the state’s No Child Left Behind plan.

“In addition to identifying areas that need improvement, NCLB provides recognition for schools that are doing well, which applies to a great majority of schools in South Dakota,” Melmer said.

In order to be recognized as a Distinguished School in South Dakota, a school must meet two requirements. First, it must meet adequate yearly progress goals for two consecutive years in both reading and math. Secondly, the school must have had at least 80 percent of all its students meet the proficient and advanced performance levels in both reading and math. Or, the school must have reduced the achievement gap by 10 percent over a two-year period for one or more of the subgroups for which it was held accountable. Similar guidelines apply for districts.

According to Melmer, 2005 is the first year his department could apply the requirement related to closing the achievement gap, because it required three years of data. That requirement, in part, accounts for the large increase in the number of schools and districts reaching the distinguished status. “What this demonstrates is the progress being made in helping all of our students to show improvement and to reach higher levels of achievement,” Melmer said.

The list of Distinguished Schools for 2005 more than doubled from last year, while the list of Distinguished Districts jumped from six to 54.

A complete list of Distinguished Schools and Districts can be found on the

2005 Report Card.