Celebrating Middle Ridge’s designation as a Blue Ribbon School are, left to right, Robin Arocho, Middle Ridge ELA instructional coach; Misty Smith, Middle Ridge math instructional coach; Michael Forehand, Middle Ridge Principal; Rhonda Battle, Assistant principal; Dr. Craig Lockhart, NCSS deputy superintendent; and Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent. (Special Photo)
COVINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Tuesday that Middle Ridge Elementary School is a National Blue Ribbon School. Middle Ridge is one of 286 schools in the nation to earn the designation.
“The faculty and staff at Middle Ridge Elementary School go above and beyond the call of duty every day,” said Principal Michael Forehand. “I am so proud to see this dedicated group of professionals receive the accolades they deserve. We are now one step closer to our goal of being the best. Not only are our students defined by our vision of strength and determination, but so too is our staff, which truly makes us worthy of being a school of National Blue Ribbon status.”
The program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is Exemplary High Performing, in which schools are recognized among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
Middle Ridge earned its designation in the second category, Exemplary Improving, for schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels in reading and mathematics in the most recent five years as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
Middle Ridge third-grade students who met or exceeded state standards for math on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test increased from 50 to 80 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to the Georgia Department of Education. There were also gains in reading, with the percentage jumping from 69 to 86 percent.
Fourth-grade students meeting or exceeding state standards in math increased from 44 to 76 percent from the period 2008 to 2012, and in reading from 70 to 84 percent. Fifth-graders meeting or exceeding math standards increased from 54 to 83 percent during those same years and in reading from 77 to 96 percent.
According to Forehand, 88 percent of Middle Ridge students meet the criteria of disadvantaged students, which includes those who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals and may include students with disabilities and who are limited English proficient, migrant or receiving services under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
“The staff, faculty and administration are most deserving of this recognition; they have worked diligently over the last several years to focus their efforts to improve students’ achievement,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “We are proud of their dedication and commitment and look forward to the continued success and improvement.”
The U.S. Department of Education will honor the 236 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony Nov. 18-19 in Washington, D.C. In its 31-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed the Blue Ribbon award on nearly 7,500 of America’s schools.
Nine Georgia schools — eight public, one private — earned the special designation. The Georgia Department of Education nominated Middle Ridge to apply for the designation. Each year, the DOE identifies schools that have shown great gains in student achievement over a period of time.
“Schools being named as a National Blue Ribbon School are just another example of the great things happening in Georgia schools. These eight schools are to be commended for their outstanding student performance,” said Georgia School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “I am excited that the students, teachers and staff were recognized on a national level for excellence.”
Duncan made this year’s announcement live via the U.S. Department of Education’s USTREAM channel, viewed by recognized principals, teachers and students assembled across the country.
“Excellence in education matters and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers,” Duncan said. “National Blue Ribbon schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education.”