Church Hill, Matapeake elementary schools cited for progress in closing achievement gaps

WASHINGTON — Two of Queen Anne’s County’s elementary schools — Church Hill and Matapeake (in Stevensville) — are among the 353 schools nationwide that the U.S. Department of Education is applauding as Blue Ribbon Schools for 2023.

“This recognition serves as validation of our amazing schools serving students in Queen Anne’s County,” Superintendent Patricia Saelens said in a prepared statement.

Overall, six Maryland schools were honored. Church Hill and Matapeake were the only schools on the Shore.

This is the 40th year for the program, which affirms and validates the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in striving for — and attaining — exemplary achievement.

The honorees have set a national example for what it means “to raise the bar in education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a news release.

“The leaders, educators and staff at our National Blue Ribbon Schools continually inspire me with their dedication to fostering academic excellence and building positive school cultures that support students of all backgrounds to thrive academically, socially and emotionally,” Cardona said in the news release.

While awardee schools represent the diverse fabric of American schools, they also share some core elements.

According to the news release, National Blue Ribbon School leaders “articulate a vision of excellence and hold everyone to high standards. They demonstrate effective and innovative teaching and learning, and the schools value and support teachers and staff through meaningful professional learning.”

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes all schools 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.

Exemplary achievement gap-closing schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students. In Maryland, Church Hill, Matapeake and Northeast Elementary School in Cumberland (Allegany County) are in this category.

Nominated schools also complete an extensive narrative application describing their school culture and philosophy, curriculum, assessments, instructional practices, professional development, leadership structures, and parent and community involvement.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year.  

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