14 answers

What Is a Blue Ribbon School ??

I am wondering what does it mean to be a blue ribbon school... ?? Is blue ribbon status an important factor in picking a school?? Should blue ribbon status count more than high meap scores?? Do meap scores mean anything really? We have a 2 year old - she is nto ready for school.. but we are trying to figure out how to pick a good school for her..

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L.,

I have no idea what a blue ribbon school is and I've been teaching for eight years.

Heather

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I graduated from a blue ribbon school, it also had high MEAP scores. Blue ribbon schools are a sign of it's achievements and how good of a school it is. Blue Ribbon status and high MEAP scores should go hand in hand - in theory. My husband and I relied heavily on MEAP scores when looking at schools for our daughter. We live in Grand Rapids Public district, and traditionally they have not had the highest MEAP rating. In fact the elementary school she should be going to in the Fall hasn't rated higher than a D the last four years. However, you should also look at how the school district as a whole operates. GRPS has known issues, and has had for some time. Parents have to look at all of the available options - and with private schools (that cost money) and Charter schools (that are free), not to mention school of choice, there are a lot of options out there. We did opt to put our daughter in one of the National Heritage Charter Academy's - which is rated very high in the nation.

As an elementary school teacher, and a mom of an 18 month old, I have been thinking about this a lot too! I have the options to send my child to the school where I work or where I live. My best advice is to visit the schools and look at the control, respect, and behaviors of the students. I want to know my child is in a safe and respectful environment with other children who are respectful and can follow the rules. As far as the academics in elementary school, any educated parent can find out the curriculum on the state or school website and make sure there child is reaching the maximum academic levels. Blue Ribbon does mean that the school has performed well in a variety of areas, but to me, it is not something I would consider in choosing a school.

L.,

I'm not sure of what a blue ribbon school is either? But I would put emphasize on the meap test. It will tell you how well that the school is teaching the kids. Not all kids are good test takers and some will do bad but when a school is getting a D that has to say something about that school. The district I live in is falling all the way thru High school. My kids do not attended there we chose a private school that we love. The falling school district have large class sizes and some of there rules are not safe for the children. Like the except children even kindergarten's to walk a mile to school I think that is too far. I think you should not only look at the school meap and how it run but also look at parent involvement in the school. This will say a lot about how the school is run and what type of class mates your child will have. Also keep in mind that an A+ school now could be a terrible school in 3yrs. I would start comparing them a year from the date she is suppose to be attending. Also if you are doing school of choice have several option open because they may not have opening in the school you want. That is how we ended up at a private school none of our options had open spots. hope this helps M.

I once had a superintendant tell a friend of mine who was moving out of state to look at the High School program options. You can tell a lot about the focus of school district on, mainly how many extra sports programs do they have versus Advanced Placement programs, and fine arts programs. Meaning if they are fortunate enough to have LaCross, Swimming, Equestrian, Hockey then they should have at least 4 forms of Advancement placement classes as well as art programs such as Music Ensambles, Jazz Bands, pottery, etc. If they have more non traditional sports programs (track, soccer, baseball, basketball, football) than AP then their focus is not on education enough.

I agree that under 25 is ideal but not always possible in all districts. We as parents have to remember at the elementary age we still need to be involved in making sure our child is "getting it". We can sit and blame the schools for not doing thier job when we are not doing ours.

Hi when we were looking we just Googled "compare schools michigan" and there are many websites dedicated to picking the right schools for your child. It takes awhile but the time is well spent.

Good Luck and God Bless
K.

L.,

I have no idea what a blue ribbon school is and I've been teaching for eight years.

Heather

I found this at http://blueribbon.rmcres.com/

The No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private K-12 schools that are either academically superior in their state or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement.

Each year since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has sought out schools where students attain and maintain high academic goals. Using standards of excellence evidenced by student achievement measures and the characteristics known from research to epitomize school quality, the Department celebrates schools that beat the odds.

High poverty, tough neighborhoods, tight budgets, teacher turnover, assessment fatigue, high percentages of English language learners, teachers unprepared for their instructional duties-schools have identified many reasons over the decades to explain their failure to teach all students successfully. At the same time, communities, states, and the nation have raised the bar, and the stakes, for school achievement.

With commitment, high energy, research-based knowledge of what works in schools, and the results of quality assessments, NCLB-Blue Ribbon Schools have shown us the way over these and other hurdles.

I'm not sure you should base your school pick on MEAP scores. I think your best bet would be to research the schools by talking to parents and looking at the graduation rate and what is taught. Also you could talk to teachers.

Blue ribbon is the top honor in competitions. Go to a dog show or livestock show and the top winner gets a blue ribbon. Cooking contests, pie contests (check out the state fair this August) and the best gets the blue ribbon.

So a blue ribbon school would be one that's been given high qualifications, endorsement, quality, that it gets a blue ribbon.

Hi L.,

I am not sure what a blue ribbon school is, but regarding meap scores, I would use them only as a part of your school choice. There is so much standardized testing going on in schools these days, but I don't feel they accurately indicate how good of a school it is. My 13 year old son is very bright (in all honors classes), but is a terrible test taker. His poor standardized test scores have nothing to do with the quality of the school. Before he began kindergarten, I visited many different schools during the school day to get an idea of what they had to offer. We are fortunate that we have many choices in where to send our children to school, although it can be a bit overwhelming. I would look more at class size, how focused they are on technology, what the communication is like between school and home, extracurricular activities, etc.

Best of luck!

Hi L.! I completed my student teaching at a school that was awarded the Blue Ribbon Award that same year. Thank you for the person who looked it up online for you so you can check it out. The school I am referring to is Douglas Elementary school in Saugatuck. It is a huge honor to have that title, something that the entire town is proud of. I would not focus too heavily on MEAP scores or any other standardized tests like the other mom said. They DO NOT accurately measure success!!!!!!!!!!! Ask any other teacher or administrator that question and they will tell you the same. Many things can influence a child's score...weather, not enough sleep at home that night, a family issue, a learning or cognitive disability, anxiety, etc. All teachers dread the MEAP test, having to teach "to the MEAP" because of the insane pressure that the media place on the scores. We would rather teach the curriculum that the state has outlined for us, not spend days teaching kids what will be on the MEAP so that they may hopefully pass it and then we can finally move on.
I would suggest for your daughter, because she is only 2, to spend some time researching preschool programs in your local districts. Look up the curriculum standards online at Michigan Department of Education for the preschool level. Find out if those standards are being met and beyond. Chances are, if a district has a great preschool program, they have many other programs that go above and beyond as well. You want a district that will support your daughter should she be gifted, have a LD, etc. The more programs a district has to help children, the better. Try to enroll her in preschool at age 3 or 4 so that she will be ready for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Private schools and charter schools do not have as many extra programs like a public school does, although they do have smaller class sizes.
Hope this all helps!!

L. I found this on the internet (sorry it's so long!)
State Board of Education Announces 23 Blue Ribbon Schools for 2006-2007
Agency: Education

February 16, 2007

LANSING -The State Board of Education has announced that Michigan Blue Ribbons are being awarded to 23 elementary schools this year, recognizing outstanding improvement strategies throughout the state.

"The Blue Ribbon program's selection committee chose these schools as meeting some very tough criteria in delivering quality education to their students," said State Board of Education President Kathleen N. Straus. "All these schools, their teachers, students, parents, and communities should be very proud of their accomplishment."

Established in 1982, the Michigan Blue Ribbon Exemplary School Program recognizes schools that demonstrate a strong commitment to educational excellence and significant academic improvement over five years. Schools must complete a comprehensive report of key criteria for school effectiveness that serves as a basis for an extensive assessment of their building and programs.

Straus pointed out that the Michigan Blue Ribbon Exemplary Schools program serves three purposes. The program identifies and recognizes outstanding schools across the state; makes research-based effectiveness criteria available to schools so they can assess themselves and plan improvements; and encourages schools to share their best practices for education success with other schools.

"Michigan Blue Ribbon Schools are models of both excellence and equity," Straus said. "To be recognized, a school must demonstrate a strong commitment to education excellence for all students."

The State Board of Education stipulates that awarded schools must have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as required by the federal No Child Left Behind law; have a Michigan EducationYES! School Report Card grade of A or B; and not have a Native American-based school mascot, nickname, or logo.

After interested public and/or private schools apply for consideration, a series of peer review committees make a preliminary selection of those schools they believe warrant a site verification visit. The review committees and site visit teams are composed of teachers and administrators from previously recognized Blue Ribbon Schools. Reports from the site visits, along with the extensive research and data provided by the schools, are considered by the selection committee.

To ensure a fair and equal selection system, elementary and secondary schools compete separately on alternate years. Elementary schools were eligible to apply for the Blue Ribbon award this year. Michigan's Blue Ribbon Exemplary Schools for 2006-07 are:

Clarkston Community Schools
Andersonville Elementary School

Lake Orion Community Schools
Blanche Sims Elementary School

Utica Community Schools
Crissman Elementary School
DeKeyser Elementary School
Flickinger Elementary School
Harvey Elementary School
Schuchard Elementary School
Schwarzkoff Elementary School
West Utica Elementary School

Detroit Edison Public School Academy

Saugatuck Public Schools
Douglas Elementary School

Ypsilanti Public Schools
Estabrook Elementary School

Warren Consolidated Schools
Fillmore Elementary School
Harwood Elementary School

West Bloomfield School District
Gretchko Elementary School

Niles Community Schools
Howard-Ellis Elementary School

Novi Community Schools
Novi Meadows Elementary School

Wyoming Public Schools
Oriole Park Elementary School

L'Anse Creuse Public Schools
South River Elementary School

Wayne-Westland Community Schools
Walker-Winter Elementary School

Sault Sainte Marie Area Public Schools
Washington Elementary School

Webberville Community Schools
Webberville Elementary School

Romulus Community Schools
Wick Elementary School

My kids go to a blue ribbon school.  As the previous writer explained it is based on how well they fit the no child left behind status.  However it is based on last year's results and now that the school has raised its own bar, it won't have that status when your daughter starts school.  I would look for a school that has small class sizes.  A good teacher can work with classes of 25 or less, but when a district increases class size to 30 or more in the lower elementary level especially, it take a great teacher to get them through.  Your child needs a school that is updating for the new graduation requirements as well.  My three children have attended 3 different elementary schools in the same district.  The difference in the experience is class size, the demographics the school has to work with and how wonderful the support staff is.  Especially elementary age kids need to be comfortable through recess, if they are sick etc.  Then again I've never had a bad teacher that I was concerned with.  Your children will be successfull if you are an involved parent.  That is one missing ingredient that no school will offer towards the success of your child.  Since you are concerned with this now at 2, you should be commended. 

Blue Ribbon School are schools of academic excellence as evaluated by the state. A lot of times you will find the cirriculum in blue ribbon schools to be higher than non accredited schools. Blue ribbon schools are the schools that other districts look at to "see how it's done". They end up being role models for other districts. There are quite a few blue ribbon schools in the Lake Orion district and from what I have heard there have been districts from out of state coming to Lake Orion for pointers on how to make their schools more productive and a more positive experience for their students.

Good luck with your search - S.

There are many factors to consider when slececting a school. I sons school is very high achieving and also just won the blue ribbon award last year. The best thing to do is schedle a tour during the school day and see for yourself what is happening in the building. High meap scores and blue ribbons are great but what really counts is how you and your child fit into the school and with the staff.

Talk to parents of currrent students - they are a wealth of information - more than you will ever get from the schools its self.

I am not sure where you live but if you email me and let me know - I have done a ton of research for my area on schools.

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