Two local schools up for national recognition
They are Kennedy Elementary School in Janesville and Gaston Elementary School in Beloit.
Nominations for the national recognition program, made by the state Department of Public Instruction, are based on criteria in two categories: dramatically improving schools and high performing schools.
Kennedy is among the dramatic improvers, which have shown improvement on state tests and have at least 40 percent of their student population from low-income backgrounds.
More than 90 percent of Kennedy students in grades 3-5 scored in the "proficient" or "advanced" categories on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exams in 2008 and 2009. The school had been in the mid- to high-80 percentiles in the three previous years, according to state-gathered statistics.
Gaston students improved from 79 percent to 93 percent from 2008 to 2009.
Kennedy's improvements came as the school transitioned from Principal Neil Bender to Principal Jay Pica in 2009. Pica is leaving at the end of this year to take a job closer to his home.
Nominated schools must complete an application from the U.S. Department of Education that focuses on results and "scientifically based instruction."
The federal education department reviews applications and will announce Blue Ribbon Schools next September.
Schools winning the award receive a plaque and flag, and a principal and a teacher will be invited to attend a recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C., next fall.