A collection of programs on the State and National levels that recognize schools for excellence.

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Stem Schools logo To identify and recognize exemplary STEM Schools and STEM Programs, the STEM Recognition Program was developed. This program provides a standard definition of quality STEM implementation using the STEM School Progress Rubric as the framework and backbone of the application process for implementing the 5 overarching STEM principles. Schools have an opportunity to submit an application providing narrative and artifactual evidence of their schools distinguished STEM approaches to leading and learning. 

Stem Schools of Distinction

Recognized Schools

Blue Ribbon Schools logoSince 1982, this coveted award has been bestowed to fewer than 8,500 of the nation’s most successful schools. Schools selected model excellence in leadership, teaching, curriculum, student achievement and parental involvement.

National Blue Ribbon Schools are recognized in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:

  • Exemplary High Performing Schools. Schools are among their state’s highest-performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
  • Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools. Schools are among their state’s highest-performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years.

Education officials in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education nominate public schools that meet the rigorous criteria for consideration. Once all nominations are received, the U.S. Secretary of Education invites the nominated schools to submit applications for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Representatives from each of these schools will be honored at a conference and awards ceremony to be held November in Washington, DC. They will receive a plaque and a flag signifying their selection as a National Blue Ribbon School.

National Blue Ribbon School Program

Green Ribbon Schools logoThe aim of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is to inspire schools, districts and institutions of higher education (IHEs) to strive for 21st-century excellence by highlighting promising school sustainability practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and IHEs that:

  1. reduce environmental impact and costs;
  2. improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
  3. provide effective environmental and sustainability education

Combined progress in ALL three of these areas, known as Pillars, serves as the basis for recognition. ED-GRS aligns with the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department’s or ED’s) cross-cutting goals for education, including improving student, staff, and facility performance and increasing efficiency at federal, state, and local levels. It is part of an ED effort to identify and communicate practices that result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness.

Encouraging resource-efficient schools, districts, and IHEs allows administrators to dedicate more resources to instruction rather than operational costs. Healthy schools and wellness practices ensure that all students learn in an environment conducive to achieving their full potential. Outdoor, environmental, and sustainability education helps all students engage in hands-on, authentic learning; hone critical thinking and collaboration skills; stay active and fit; and develop a solid foundation in many disciplines.

National Green Ribbon Schools Website

A main focus or goal of the State Board of Education's Task Force report, "Preparing Students for the World" (January 2013) was to establish criteria for Global Education designations that would recognize the work of individuals and organizations.

There are now designations that can be earned by students graduating from high school and educators implementing global education in various learning environments. There are also designations for K-12 public schools and districts that recognize significant focus and dedication to global education.

Visit the Global-Ready School Designation Website

North Carolina is home to a large population of active duty, guard, reserve, and veteran armed services members, and the state’s public schools reflect that. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has launched the Purple Star Award Designation initiative this school year to recognize the state’s strong military presence and its support for military families. The Purple Star designation is awarded to schools that demonstrate military-friendly practices and a commitment to military students and families.

Visit the Purple Star Award Website