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Ricardo Richards, Pearl B. Larsen Schools Win National Blue Ribbons

Ricardo Richards Elementary and Pearl B. Larsen Elementary were recognized Tuesday as 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan made the official announcement Tuesday afternoon, recognizing 337 schools – 287 public schools and 50 private – across the states and territories. The National Blue Ribbon Program recognizes schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

The award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content, according to a news release from the V.I. Department of Education.

"These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education – that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative, and challenging learning environments," Duncan said in Tuesday’s statement. "National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student."

All schools are recognized in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:

– Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Student subgroup performance and high school graduation rates are also at the highest levels.

– Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years. Student subgroup performance and high school graduation rates for each subgroup are at high levels.

For the 2013-14 award year, the U.S. Department of Education strengthened the focus of both categories’ performance criteria around subgroups within a school and improving graduation rates for all students.

"This is truly exciting news," said V.I. Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory on Tuesday from Denmark, where she is attending the UNESCO Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Network conference along with a contingent of local delegates.

"This award speaks volumes about the quality of our public schools here in the territory," the commissioner said. "Both Pearl B. Larsen and Ricardo Richards are exemplary early learning environments, which put emphasis on each child, how they learn and what they need in order to fully develop. I congratulate both school teams for all their hard work, along with our St. Croix district team for continuing to put in the resources and time needed for these schools to excel."

A complete listing of this year’s Blue Ribbon Schools is available online at

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