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PHARR, Texas – PSJA’s Kelly-Pharr Elementary has been recognized as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Recipients of this prestigious honor are selected based on a school’s high level of student achievement or their exemplary progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. DeVos recognized 367 schools in total.

Now in its 38th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed almost 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years.   

“Congratulations to this year’s National Blue Ribbon School awardees,” DeVos said. “It’s a privilege to recognize the extraordinary work you do to meet students’ needs and prepare them for successful careers and meaningful lives.” 

Of the 367 schools recognized across the nation, 26 are in Texas. All of the 26 were nominated by the Texas Education Agency, based on student performance on the first administration of the 2019 STAAR assessments.

Of the 26 Texas schools selected, two were in Corpus Christi – Windsor Park G/T Elementary School and the Early Childhood Development Center. Both are part of Corpus Christi ISD. 

“Congratulations to all the schools in Texas who were selected for this honor. I especially would like to recognize the students and educators at Kelly-Pharr Elementary School, Windsor Park G/T Elementary School, and the Early Childhood Development Center,” said state Sen. Juan Hinojosa.

“Their National Blue Ribbon designation is attributed to the hard work of the students and the dedication and commitment from their teachers and administrators. Education is the greatest equalizer in our society and is the key to our future successes.”

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo said a National Blue Ribbon Schools award is coveted in the world of public education. He said it affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. 

“We commend the hard work of our Kelly-Pharr students, teachers and staff and of course our parents,” Arredondo said. “To be recognized at this level takes a lot dedication and team effort. To the administrative team and Principal Trevino, congratulations for keeping learning at the forefront and ensuring every one of your students reaches their ultimate potential.” 

The Education 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 – These are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. 
  • Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools – These are among their state’s highest performing in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students. 
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  • Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The U.S. Education 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). 
  • Since the program’s inception, PSJA ISD has had five other schools receive this honor. In the 1987-88 school year Raul Longoria Elementary was awarded the Blue Ribbon School designation. In the 1998-99 school year, Napper Elementary received this honor and in 2009 James Bowie Elementary, now McKeever Elementary was awarded. Most recently in 2018, Cesar Chavez Elementary and Carmen Anaya Elementary were awarded the prestigious designation. 
  • The 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony will be held virtually Nov. 12 and 13. While we regret not having the opportunity to celebrate in person, given the current situation regarding COVID-19, we will celebrate the 317 public and 50 non-public school honorees in the ways that we are able, and they will each receive their plaques and flags via mail. 

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