St. Athanasius School in Evanston is one of 269 schools across the country named Friday as Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.
In announcing the award, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, said the schools selected for the award "are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future."
Fifty private schools were among those selected for the award, which was earned by a total of 21 schools in Illinois — the closest other winner to Evanston was St. Francis Xavier School in Wilmette.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students' levels of achievement.
The program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is "Exemplary High Performing," in which schools are recognized among their state's highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.
The second category is "Exemplary Improving," in which schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.
Both St. A's and St. Francis Xavier won in the "Exemplary High Performing" category.