U. S. Secretary of Education Announces 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools

St. Benedict Preparatory School One of Seven in Archdiocese on 2019 List 

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today recognized 362 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2019. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. 

 There are more than 132,000 K-12 schools in the U.S., about 35,576 are private schools, which serve more than 5 million students in grades PreK to 12, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. St. Benedict Preparatory School is one of only 50non-public schools across the nation honored as an Exemplary High Performing School. 

 “We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” said DeVos in a video message to the honorees. “As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning.” 

 The curriculum of St. Benedict Preparatory School, (PreK to grade 8), is designed to be challenging, rigorous and advantageous to students as they progress into high school and beyond. 

 This approach has proven effective evidenced by students’ superior academic test scores. St. Benedict students consistently exceeded national benchmarks on ACT Aspire Tests (in all categories, in all grades 3-8). St. Benedict students in 2019 also met or exceeded the Archdiocese of Chicago schools average in all areas at all grade levels. 

 The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. 

The St. Benedict curriculum and approach to education are based on the 21st Century Learning Framework. "We prepare our students for the future by focusing on essential skills which research shows are critical for success. Our students need to think critically and creatively, learn rigorous content, develop resilience, as well as be productive collaborators,” said Head of Parish School Rachel Gemo. “Our curriculum and approach are based on the ‘7 C’s’ of Learning: Catholic Formation, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Content, and Confidence. All instructional activities must build on one or more of the 7 C’s.”

Key to the school’s success has been individualized attention and small class size. St. Benedict has a 10:1 student/teacher ratio in early childhood classrooms; and 21:1 students per classroom in grades 1-8. Maximum class size is about 30% smaller than at Chicago Public Schools, according to Better Government Association. 

 St. Benedict provides the opportunity for each student to develop his or her God-given gifts, talents and personal passions by offering more than 25 extra-curricular enrichment clubs, athletics, drama, in-house dance studio, band and strings instruction.  

 Now in its 37th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition on more than 9,000 schools. On November 14 and 15, the Secretary and the Department of Education will celebrate with 312 public and 50non-public school honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

  The Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup 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. 

  The Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by The Council for American Private Education (CAPE).