Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Tristate schools honored

At least five recognized by federal government

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

At least five Tristate schools were named Tuesday as recipients of the prestigious No Child Left Behind - Blue Ribbon Schools Award by the U.S. Department of Education.

Schools notified of the award, which honors academic achievement and progress for the 2002-03 year, were:

• Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy's elementary school (grades K-4), Symmes Township.

• Cincinnati Country Day School's elementary school (grades K-5), Indian Hill.

• Covington Latin School (grades 7-12).

• St. Louis Elementary School (grades 1-8), Batesville.

• Villa Madonna Academy high school (grades 9-12), Villa Hills.

They are among 220 schools to receive the award nationwide, including nine in Indiana, three in Kentucky and at least 18 in Ohio. A final count for Ohio is not expected until today, according to David Thomas of the U.S. Department of Education.

The schools will receive their awards in Washington during a two-day trip that culminates in a luncheon Oct. 31.

Pamela McQueen, principal of Villa Madonna, attributes her school's success to its small size (a 15-1 student-teacher ratio), dedicated staff and parental involvement.

"Research has shown that in schools having a small class size, the students get a lot of individual attention. I think that makes a difference,'' McQueen said.

This is the second consecutive year the 160-pupil high school has won the Blue Ribbon Award.

The award criteria changed this year to reflect the goals of No Child Left Behind, signed by President Bush in 2002. It is considered to be the most sweeping reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act since the education bill was enacted in 1965.

Schools qualified for the award by fulfilling one of the following criteria:

• Test scores among the top 10 percent in the state.

• At least 40 percent of students come from a disadvantaged background, and they improved significantly on state test scores.

Criteria for the 2001-02 Blue Ribbon Awards included student achievement, parental involvement, leadership and teaching.

Since the program's 1982 inception, it has alternated between honoring elementary schools one year and secondary schools the following year. All K-12 schools were eligible this year, and there were no onsite visits, as was the case in past years.

"We're very excited. This is the first year we applied, and I think we're the first school from our area to get the Blue Ribbon award,'' said Michael Amrhein, principal of St. Louis school in Ripley County.

For the past five years, St. Louis students have scored in the top 5 percent on the Indiana State Test for Educational Progress.

"We're very blessed here. We have very little teacher turnover. They look on it as a ministry, not a job. We have a lot of parental support.''

For information

A complete list of Blue Ribbon winners since the program's inception in 1982 can be found at the U.S. Department of Education's Web site: Criteria for the award and an explanation of the No Child Left Behind act are also available at the site.



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