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ITBS scores help schools achieve National Blue Ribbon status

Success in elementary, middle and high school can go a long way in ensuring that students possess the knowledge and skills they will need throughout their collegiate and professional careers. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) shines a spotlight on institutions that are helping students excel.

The DOE accomplishes this through its National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which has been honoring the nation's most successful public and private institutions since its inception in 1982, according to the Department's website.

Before a National Blue Ribbon Schools flag can wave proudly over an institution, chief state school officers must nominate high performing schools. One way the DOE determines if a school is eligible is through students' scores on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS).

This year's recipients

Recently, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that a total of 269 schools were deemed eligible to receive the National Blue Ribbon. Of these institutions, 219 are public and 50 are private. What they all have in common is their commitment to improving academic achievement levels for their students.

"Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future," Duncan said.

A closer look

The Corpus Christi School in Connecticut was among the institutions singled out by the DOE this year. The private school was placed in the category of "Exemplary High Performing" based on students' scores on state assessments or nationally-normed tests. In 2011, Corpus Christi pupils who took the ITBS helped the institution land at or above the 95th percentile nationally.

The private school is part of the Archdiocese of Hartford, along with the Our Lady of Mercy School and Saint Dominic School, which were also recognized as Blue Ribbon Schools.

"They stand as stellar examples of the excellence and superb achievement that is so characteristic of our Catholic schools," said Dale R. Hoyt, superintendent of Catholic schools at the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Saint Dominic School's eligibility was based on students' ITBS scores from March 2011 in areas such as reading, math and social studies, the Meriden Record-Journal reported. From Saint Dominic Principal Patricia Tiezzi's point of view, this honor - which the School received for the first time - shows that the institution is moving in the right direction.