Cumberland’s Community School dubbed ‘blue ribbon’
CUMBERLAND – A local elementary school has been selected to receive a national education award based on its student progress and success in closing gaps between student subgroups.
Community Elementary School at 15 Arnold Mills Road was named by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as a National Blue Ribbon School along with Classical High School in Providence and Fishing Cove Elementary School in North Kingstown as Rhode Island’s schools in the national recognition program.
“National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future,” DeVos said in a statement announcing the selected schools.
“You are visionaries, innovators and leaders. You have much to teach us: some of you personalize student learning, others engage parents and communities in the work and life of your local schools and still others develop strong and forward-thinking leaders from your teaching staff,” DeVos said.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap, the Department of Education noted.
The awards recognized the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenges and engaging content.
The program, now in its 35 year, has recognized more than 8,500 schools over the years. The latest honorees will be celebrated at an awards ceremony attended by DeVos in Washington on Nov. 7 and 8.
The schools honored were selected for their success in one of two performance categories that were based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates.
Those named as Exemplary High Performing Schools are among a state’s highest performing school as measured by state assessments or national normed testing, according to the Department of Education.
The schools honored as Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools, such as Community, are ranked among a state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years.
Up to 420 schools may be nominated to the program each year with the Department of Education invites the top education official in each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Department of Defense Education, and the Bureau of Indian Education to nominate schools. The Council of American Private Education nominates private schools to the program.
Cumberland Mayor William Murray said on Thursday that he hasn’t yet received a formal communication about Community Elementary School’s award but added he was not surprised by it given the school’s success in meeting the needs of its students.
“I have two grandchildren who go there and I know it is a very good school and that it is always extremely high rated on performance testing,” he said.
Like the town’s four other elementary schools, Cumberland Hill, Ashton, B.F. Norton and Garvin, Community does a good job meeting the specific needs of the students that come through its doors, according to Murray.
“From what I can see, we have been fortunate over the years in having strong principals running these schools,” he said. “Each one is different, and have students with different needs, but they are all well run and that is good for our school system,” he said.
In addition to strong administrative leadership, Murray said the schools also have “very good teachers who are dedicated to all of these students and do a wonderful job.”